Earth Hour aims for hope in darkened world

March 25, 2011 by Madeleine Coorey
This photo taken on March 23, 2011 shows Earth Hour co-founder and executive director Andy Ridley posing in Sydney. Lights will go out around the world on March 26, 2011 as hundreds of millions of people are expected to take part in the Earth Hour climate change campaign, which will also mark Japan's tragic quake and tsunami.

Lights will go out around the world Saturday with hundreds of millions of people set to take part in the Earth Hour climate change campaign, which this year will also mark Japan's earthquake and tsunami.

From across the Pacific, to Australia, Asia, Europe, Africa and the Americas, iconic landmarks such as the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, New York's and the in Paris will go dark.

"Earth Hour is like a New Year's Eve," Earth Hour co-founder and executive director Andy Ridley told AFP from the group's Sydney office.

"It's meant to be a celebration -- it's a bit different this year because of the Japan stuff -- but it's meant to be about hope and the future."

Ridley said in Sydney and other cities, some Earth Hour events would hold a minute's silence to mark the devastating 9.0-magnitude quake and subsequent tsunami in Japan this month that left more than 25,000 people dead or missing.

The disaster followed a deadly earthquake in New Zealand's Christchurch and massive floods in Australia in January, which devastated thousands of homes and ruined crops and infrastructure.

"It's been a bad start to the year, and I guess it's an opportunity to take a moment and think about that," Ridley said, adding that the campaign had a different focus in every location and not all events would mention Japan's catastrophe.

The Earth Hour movement, which aims to raise awareness about by switching off lights for 60 minutes, hopes to bring people together to think about what they can do to reduce harmful carbon pollution blamed for rising temperatures.

WWF International helped initiate Earth Hour in Sydney in 2007, and by 2010 the energy-saving event had grown to engage hundreds of millions of people in 4,616 cities and 128 countries and territories.

"We didn't imagine right at the beginning... it would be on the scale that it is now," said Ridley.

"And the fact that it is so cross-cultural, beyond borders and race and religion," he added, saying the event would never have grown so successfully without social networking sites such as Facebook.

This year organisers are focussing on connecting people online so they can inspire each other to go beyond the hour and make commitments to help the environment in their daily lives.

To do this they have created an online platform connected to the 14 top social media sites around the world, including Facebook and Twitter, which people will be easily able to access from mobile phones.

Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard this week backed Earth Hour.

" has become a special symbol of the determination of so many people to make a difference," said Gillard, who is facing stiff opposition to her plan to introduce a tax on in Australia.

Ridley said that despite the growth of the event, which organisers said was the largest voluntary action ever witnessed in 2010, the ideals of the global movement had not changed.

"When we first started this we were trying to effectively take the temperature, we were trying to prove or see whether, contrary to some commentators, whether or nor people cared (about climate change)," he said.

"I think there is a massive consensus for action, not just on climate change.

"The idea of this is not to engage in the 'why we can't do anything' debate but absolutely talk about what can be done."

The first lights going off Saturday will be in Fiji and New Zealand's Chatham Islands, before cities and landmarks around the world follow suit.

Other iconic structures due to go dark include the Sydney Opera House, Indonesia's National Monument, London's Eye and Brazil's Christ the Redeemer statue.

Explore further: Earth Hour: from switching off to taking action

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1.5 / 5 (16) Mar 25, 2011
Perhaps Al Gore did not invent the internet, but he certainly showed how to use the internet for government propaganda!

With kind regards,
Oliver K. Manuel
1.6 / 5 (13) Mar 25, 2011
Why stop at 1 hour per year. If 1 hour will help to forestall climate change (aka man-made global warming) then why not ban electricity and all energy for good and make everyone revert to a pre-industrial existence. Everyone except Al Gore and other eco-elites who deserve waivers because of their diligence in spreading the gospel of the primordial Gaia.

1 / 5 (8) Mar 26, 2011
2.6 / 5 (5) Mar 26, 2011
One hour per year is merely a symbol of ones commitment to life on our planet. It's sad that some people believe a single hour per year is too much to spend. I wonder how much time these people spend showing reverence for their God or Gods, by fasting, not working certain days and praying? Yet to ask them to show reverence for their home planet is too great of a leap.
I for one am thankful for our planet and the life it supports.
1.9 / 5 (9) Mar 26, 2011
Yeah because turning off the lights is going to shut down the massive coal generators - they take a long time to stop working. The only thing this is going to do is create a headache for power engineers.
1.5 / 5 (15) Mar 26, 2011
Thanks for the reminder. I will now leave everything turned on when I go out for a pint tonight!
1.6 / 5 (14) Mar 27, 2011
The only thing this is going to do is create a headache for power engineers.
Now there's an idea. Can the sickly greenies (pinko on the inside) coordinate their lightswitch snaps well enough to step change the load on "the grid" and overspeed the generators? Naah, too much reactive power in the transmission lines. Nyaah, too much consensus, leadership failed. Democrat leadership is oxymoron.

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