Wednesday, April 30, 2008
Earth hour first step in 'global warming war'
From the Sydney Opera House to San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge went dark as people switched off lights in their homes and skylines dimmed around the world yesterday to show concern with global warming.
Up to 30 million people were expected to have turned off their lights for 60 minutes by the time "Earth Hour" -- which started in Suva in Fiji and Christchurch in New Zealand -- completed its cycle westward.
More than 380 towns and cities and 3,500 businesses in 35 countries signed up for the campaign that is in its second year after it began in 2007 in Sydney, Australia's largest city.
"Earth Hour shows that everyday people are prepared to pull together to find a solution to climate change. It can be done," said James Leape of WWF International, which was running the campaign.
Lights at Sydney's Opera House and Harbour Bridge were lowered as Australians held candle-lit beach parties, played poker by candlelight and floated candles down rivers.
"In the central square a lot of people were standing looking at the stars," said Ida Thuesen, spokeswoman for WWF Denmark.
"It's not often you can see the stars in a city."
In a tip of its virtual hat to the event, the background of Google's home page turned to black from white on more than a dozen country sites including Google.com.
A message on the site read: "We've turned the lights out. Now it's your turn." and directed visitors to conserve energy when using computers.
Buildings account for about one-third of the carbon emissions that scientists say will boost global average temperatures by between 1.4 and 4.0 degrees Celsius this century, bringing floods and famines and putting millions of lives at risk.
Organisers of Earth Hour said that while switching off a light for one hour would have little impact on carbon emissions, the fact that so many people were taking part showed how much interest and concern at the climate crisis had taken hold.