World celebrates Earth Hour

2012-04-01 15:20

London - Hundreds of world landmarks from Berlin's Brandenburg Gate to the Great Wall of China went dark on Saturday, part of a global effort to highlight climate change.

Earth Hour, held on the last Saturday of March every year, began as a Sydney-only event in 2007. The city's iconic Harbour Bridge and Opera House were dimmed again this year.

Australia is among the first countries to flick off the light switches each year; in New Zealand, Sky Tower in Auckland and the parliament buildings in Wellington switched off two hours earlier; Tokyo Tower was also dimmed and in Hong Kong, buildings along Victoria Harbour also went dark. All the events take place at 20:30 local time.

The WWF, the global environmental group which organizes the event, said the number of countries and territories participating has grown from 135 last year to 147 this year.

"Global warming is a big issue," said Rudy Ko, of Taiwanese environmental group Society of Wilderness. "Everybody can help reduce the problem by turning the lights off."

5 000 lit candles

Ko said children should invite their parents "to turn the lights off, go out, go to the parks to do some exercise, and enjoy some family time instead of watching TV or play video games".

In Europe, 5 000 candles were lit in the form of a globe in front of Berlin's Brandenburg Gate before city officials switched off the monument's lighting.

More than 230 monuments and major gathering points in Paris were expected to dim lights for an hour - including Notre Dame Cathedral, the Arc de Triomphe, as well as fountains and bridges over the Seine.

An exception: The Eiffel Tower, which the mayor's office said would go dark for only five minutes "for security reasons".

Big Ben, Buckingham Palace, Tower Bridge and St Paul's Cathedral were among the other London landmarks to go dark. Managers at the Savoy hotel planned to light the lobby, bars and restaurants with candles.

"Let us stand together to make of our world a sustainable source for our future as humanity on this planet," the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory said in a tweet.

People power

Across the Nordic nations, government buildings and municipalities joined in, including Stockholm's royal castle and the Swedish capital's huge globe-shaped sports arena. In Sweden's second-largest city, Goteborg, the main boulevard was bathed in an hour's darkness. People launched paper lanterns into the air in St Petersburg, Russia.

Washington's National Cathedral and New York's Empire State Building also took part.

Libya, Algeria, Bhutan and French Guinea are among those participating for the first time.

"Earth Hour 2012 is a celebration of people power; the world's largest mass event in support of the planet," WWF official Dermot O'Gorman told reporters in Sydney.

  • Peter - 2012-04-01 16:17

    Sorry that I did not join in with the world's enthusiasm. Last Wednesday there was a power failure in the Elandsfontein area from 11h40 to 16h40. I lost 5 hours of production in my factory but "saved" the country/Eish I mean Eskom 105kwh power. Friday 00h01 am to 15h30 we had a power failure in the edenvale area, so no hot showers, cold breakfasts making sure no food was spoilt. Quite bluntly with Eishkom's inability to supply its product to customers, South Africa's contribution to "Earth Day" far exceeded anybody's personal effort by observing an extra hour of life with reduced electricity consumption and this ain't no April Fools' joke

  • krishnamurthy.chelluri - 2012-04-01 16:30

    in hyderabad,india,spontaneously the majority of the people follwed voluntarily"earthhour".

  • Morgaen - 2012-04-01 17:01

    I celebrated Earth Hour by turning my geyser up to 70C, ran all my electric heaters, operated the kreepy krawly, changed all my light bulbs back to incandescent. Suck on that, you tree-hugging pansies.

      Ernst - 2012-04-01 18:47

      @Morgaen: Well done. Good for you.

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