The inspiration of one hour goes beyond the hour
Canadian Astronaut Commander Chris Hadfield tweeted images from space in celebration of Earth Hour with his unique perspective of seeing cities and natural wonders from above. Russian Cosmonaut Roman Romanenko also sent a video message from space, before one of the most historic moments in the movement’s history saw The Kremlin, the official residence of the President, and Red Square plunged into darkness for the first time in celebration of last year’s environmental outcome that saw the passing of legislation to protect Russia’s seas from oil pollution. “The first time I stepped on the board of the International Space Station and saw the Earth from outside, I was amazed by how beautiful and fragile it was. Our planet is the most precious treasure that we have. It is our home and we fully depend on it. And its existence depends on us as well. It depends on our attitude to it and on how we use its resources,” said Romanenko from the International Space Station. Six of China’s biggest social media sites with a daily reach of 200 million people also went dark to raise awareness for Earth Hour, and the official Instagram account posted a single image from Sydney’s switch off at the Opera House from their Headquarters in San Francisco that generated more than 180,000 Likes. More than 36,000 Earth Hour images were uploaded to the image sharing platform at the time of this writing. Anti-apartheid hero Nelson Mandela was one of the first to tweet his support, and ushered a timely message given the many reforestation projects around the world tied to Earth Hour’s I Will If You Will campaign. “The trees & forests were destroyed exactly because our people were so dependent upon them as sources of energy. #NelsonMandela #EarthHour”, he tweeted. Countries and territories participating in Earth Hour for the first time included Palestine, Suriname, Rwanda and Tunisia; where WWF, the Tunisian National Agency for Energy Management and Tunisian Scouts focused celebrations in Habib Bourguiba Avenue, the birthplace of the Arab Spring. Tunisian President Moncef Marzouki inaugurated the event. Celebrities endorsing action for and during Earth Hour included Lionel Messi, Yoko Ono, Amitabh Bachchan, Alejandro Sanz, Imogen Heapand more. As the hour of inspiration reached Latin America, official Earth Hour organisers and WWF-affiliate Fundación Vida Silvestre in Argentina celebrated their campaign to raise support for the passing of a Senate bill to make the 3.4 million-hectare 'Banco Burwood' the biggest Marine Protected Area (MPA) in the country. Incorporating this distinctive marine plateau important to fisheries and birds such as albatross, petrels and penguins will more than triple the proportion of Argentina’s Exclusive Economic Zone under protection. For the first time WWF’s Earth Hour City Challenge went global and produced 17 finalist cities from six countries. Announced as the first ever Global Earth Hour Capital, Vancouver was recognised unanimously by a jury of experts for its innovative actions on climate change and dedication to create a sustainable, pleasant urban environment for current and future residents. By 2020, Vancouver is aiming for all new buildings to be carbon neutral in their operations; citizens to make over 50% of trips by foot, bicycle or public transport; and the number of green jobs to have doubled. Earth Hour participating landmarks included the Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge, Tokyo Tower, Taipei 101, The Petronas Towers, Beijing National Stadium (Bird's Nest), Marina Bay Sands Singapore, Gateway of India, The Kremlin and Red Square in Moscow, The Burj Khalifa, The Church of the Nativity (Birthplace of Jesus, Bethlehem), Table Mountain, Dubrovnik City Walls, Eiffel Tower, Avenue Habib Bourguiba, The Acropolis, Tower of Pisa, The Spanish Steps, Brandenburg Gate, Buckingham Palace, Tower Bridge, The UK Houses of Parliament, Big Ben, Christ the Redeemer Statue, CN Tower, Las Vegas Strip, Times Square, The Empire State Building, Niagara Falls and the United Nations Headquarters in New York City.