50m worldwide celebrate Earth Hour 2011

Co founded by Andy Ridley in 2007 who worked for the Sydney Herald, Earth Hour is now a Global event organized by WWF. Individuals and businesses are asked to turn off all non-essential lights and other electrical appliances for one hour on the last Saturday in March every year to raise awareness for the need to take action on climate change.

In the first year, just over 2.2 million people and 2000 businesses switched off in support. Since 2008 this global event saw all 7 continents celebrating Earth Hour, 214 cities and an estimated 50 million people. In 2009, this rose to a staggering 4159 cities within 88 countries. 2010 had 128 participating countries and 2011 saw 133 countries and regions registered to participate. Some of the world famous landmarks that switched off were:

Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe

The Sphinx and pyramid of Giza

Eiffel Tower in Paris

Christ the Redeemer in Rio de Janeiro

The Acropolis in Athens

Sydney Harbour Bridge and Opera House in Australia

Table Mountain in Cape Town, South Africa

The Empire State Building in New York

Buckingham Palace and Big Ben in London

The Coliseum in Rome

500,000 light bulbs in the worlds tallest building, the 828 metre Burj Kalifa tower in Dubai were turned off. Six of the worlds 10 biggest skyscrapers turned their lights off. You Tube supported Earth Hour by changing its logo and by adding an switch on/off feature near the title of each video so that users could change the background colour from white to black. Google homepage in many countries also turned to a black background

An exciting addition in 2011 were the cities and towns neighbouring Perus famed lost City of the Incas, Machu Picchu, Lake Titicaca, the largest Ramsar wetland site in the Amazon, acknowledged as a conservation priority site by the Ramsar Convention. In joining Earth Hour beyond the hour they have committed to implementing a solid waste management programme which will help rehabilitate one of the most important rivers in the Peruvian Amazon and are committed to ongoing environmental action.

Environment Africa in Victoria Falls supported Earth Hour by calling for the local community to come together with candles. In a display of grass roots action in South Africa, the Soweto Gospel Choir rose up in song at Orlando Stadium for Earth Hour 2011. The stadium switched off all its lights for the Hour.

Many countries used this hour to acknowledge Japan in one of their darkest hours and to show support. A shelter for people in North Eastern Japan made homeless from the recent earthquake and subsequent tsumani observed the hour with a power switch-off and prayers for the dead and missing.

The standard Earth Hour 60 logo which is representative of the 60 minutes of Earth Hour is to draw our attention and make us think about the impact we are having on our planet and how we can do something positive and make a difference to our environment. For Earth Hour 2011, the 60+ logo was introduced to represent a commitment to add to Earth Hour, to take positive action that goes beyond the hour.

The message is clear, climate change is real, it is happening, we have to do something about it. Ultimately, this is what Earth Hour is about, by joining in a symbolic action of switching off our lights, we signal to decision makers that we want real action on the most pressing environmental issues of our time.

UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon in his support for Earth Hour 2011 said: All over the world individuals, communities, businesses and governments are creating new examples for our common future, new visions for sustainable living and new technologies to realize it. Let us use 60 minutes of darkness to help the world see light.

We are all connected and we are all dependent on the life support system of earth. The challenges we face, in particular, climate change and degradation of the natural environment are both local and global and we face them together, said the WWF.

Post published in: Environment

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