World cities switch off lights to mark Earth Hour

March 26, 2017 2:14 pm

The Empire State Building and the United Nations Headquarters
in joined other iconic buildings and monuments around the
world plunging into darkness for sixty minutes on Saturday to mark Earth
Hour and draw attention to climate change. 

The Eiffel
Tower, the Kremlin, the Acropolis in Athens and Sydney’s Opera House
also dimmed their lights as millions of people from some 170 countries
and territories were expected to take part in Earth Hour, the annual bid
to highlight global warming caused by the burning of coal, oil and gas
to drive cars and power plants.
The event, which originated in Sydney, has grown to become a worldwide environmental campaign, celebrated across all continents.
The
World Wild Fund for Nature (WWF) conservation group, which organizes
the event, said great strides had been made in highlighting the dire
state of the planet.
“We started Earth Hour in 2007 to show
leaders that climate change was an issue people cared about,”
coordinator Siddarth Das said.
“For that symbolic moment to turn
into the global movement it is today, is really humbling and speaks
volumes about the powerful role of people in issues that affect their
lives.”
In Sydney, many harborside buildings switched off their
lights for an hour from 8:30 p.m. local time as the call for action
began rolling out across the world.
“I agree with the concept, 100 percent,” said student Ed Gellert, 24, in Sydney.
“I
think people probably avoid the fact that climate change is happening,
so it’s good to see the city grouping together to support Earth Hour.”
From
Australia, it moved westward through Asia, with many of the skyscrapers
ringing Hong Kong’s Victoria Harbor going dark in solidarity, while at
Myanmar’s most sacred pagoda, the Shwedagon, 10,000 oil lamps were lit
to shine a light on climate action.

Milad Tower in Tehran before lights were switched March 25 to mark Earth Hour (Photo by ISNA) The
lights of the Eiffel Tower in Paris, France’s best-known symbol, were
switched off for five minutes at 1930 GMT and the Burj Khalifa tower in
Dubai, the world’s tallest building, went dark for an hour.
London’s
Big Ben, the Houses of Parliament and London Eye giant wheel followed
suit, among 270 British landmarks that switched off.
Berlin’s
famed Brandenburg Gate and its City Hall also plunged into darkness as
some 300 other German cities took part in the event.
In
Singapore, around 200 organizations, including buildings along the
city-state’s iconic skyline, went black to mark the occasion. Organizers
said around 35,000 people watched performances and participated in a
“carbon-neutral run” that saw some runners in panda and tiger costumes
to raise awareness of wildlife protection.
And in Japan, Tokyo’s famed Sony Building in Ginza extinguished its bright lights to honor the occasion.
Homes and businesses were also asked to join, and individuals could commit to the cause on Facebook.
WWF
said teams around the world would use Earth Hour this year to highlight
climate issues most relevant to individual countries.
In South
Africa, the focus was on renewable energy, while in China, WWF said it
was working with businesses to encourage a shift toward more sustainable
lifestyles.
Visible proof 
Last year, scientists recorded the Earth’s hottest temperatures in modern times for the third year in a row.
Nations
agreed in Paris in 2015 to limit average global warming to two degrees
Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) over pre-industrial temperatures.
That
is the level at which many scientists say humankind can still avoid
worst-case climate outcomes in terms of rising sea levels, worsening
droughts and floods, and increasingly violent superstorms.
“Climate change is visible proof that our actions can have a ripple effect beyond physical borders,” Das said.
“It
is up to each of to ensure the impact we create helps instead to
improve the lives of those around us and elsewhere, at present and in
the future.”
Earth Hour does not collect global statistics about
the energy conserved during the 60-minute blackout, chiefly a symbolic
event.

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