Earth Hour kicks off to great start in Pacific
The event in Sydney was heralded – as usual – with the lights going out on the Sydney Harbor Bridge and Opera House with other major landmarks in State capitals and nearly 150 other communities joining in.
Melbourne had an equivalent double with historic Flinders Street station and modern icon Federation Square going dark, while in Brisbane, the lights went out on the city’s Storey Bridge. Beers by candlelight in pubs across the vast country were accompanied by cheering as the lights went out. Events being staged ranged from meditation sessions towards a better world to beach parties.
Earth Hour had got off to a much quieter start in the remote Chatham Islands, close by the International Date Line in the western Pacific, when residents turning off diesel generators became the first of an expected hundreds of millions to turn off lights in a global expression of concern over climate change.
By the time, lights are turned back on in Samoa 26 hours later (due to a kink in the International Date Line), the tiny Chatham island’s community of about 600 will have been joined by seven of the world’s ten largest cities - Shanghai, Mumbai, Beijing, Sao Paulo, Seoul, Moscow and Dehli.
"Earth Hour provides a global platform for millions of people to voice their concern about the devastating effects of climate change," said WWF Director General James Leape who is on hand to help turning off the lights in Beijing’s Forbidden City.
As the event launched, a record 125 countries and territories (up from 88 in 2009) and over 4000 cities, towns and municipalities (1200 more than at the commencement of Earth Hour 2009) had signed up to join the event.
“When Earth Hour started in Sydney in 2007, we never in our wildest dreams imagined it would catch on like this,” said Founder and Executive Director, Andy Ridley.
“The world’s citizens know that the time to act is now – the planet can’t wait. More and more of the world’s people, more and more of the world’s businesses and more and more of the world’s communities want to take action themselves and want their leaders to keep working on a solution for a better, healthy world.”
Sky tower LED light show brackets Earth Hour in Auckland
Auckland’s Sky Tower, a consistent Earth Hour supporter, has switched to more energy efficient LED lighting for its upper section since last year’s Earth Hour. The 328 metre tower, New Zealand’s highest human-made structure, staged a build up to Earth Hour by switching off for incrementally longer periods all this week. The new LED lights signaled the start and finish of Earth Hour with light shows in the Earth Hour colors of green and blue.
Nearly 50 cities, towns and rural districts in New Zealand participated in Earth Hour, with other major landmarks going off including the Beehive and Parliament buildings in Wellington, the Hawkes Bay Opera House and the Giant Kiwi Fruit in Te Puke.
Noted NZ film director and comedian Taika Waitiki said "If we can make a huge change with just one finger flicking a switch imagine what we could do with two fingers...a hand... an arm and a leg....four legs....sixteen arms, three heads and a long tail with a huge spiked ball on the end... just imagine what we could do with a creature like that".
Former New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark, now heading the United Nations Development Program, said "In 2008 I launched WWF-New Zealand's first ever Earth Hour in Christchurch. Its message was simple but powerful : that our individual actions may be small, but together we can make a difference.
"Since then I've seen the Earth Hour message grow as increasing numbers of people - in New Zealand and around the world - recognise the importance of personal action in the movement to stop dangerous climate change.”
Televisions stay on in Fiji
Lights went out but many televisions stayed on in Fiji, as residents followed the lead of Fijian sevens rugby captain, Emosi Vucago, amongst the first to sign up to Fiji’s Earth Hour. Fijians followed their team take part in the Hong Kong Rugby Sevens tournament by candlelight, with the result a resounding 45-7 win against Portugal.
For those not quite so addicted to rugby, there was a concert at the Ratu Sukuna Park in Suva, launching the theme of “Going beyond the Hour”. Among those outlining energy saving measures in the longer term were Pacific area US embassies.
Tuvalu tries for carbon free Earth Hour
In Tuvalu, one of the nations most threatened by climate change due to rising sea levels, government and people are trying not just for a light free Earth Hour but for a completely carbon neutral Earth Hour. Power will be cut to the entire island nation, lights and generators on boats in ports across the country will be switched off and car drivers and motorcycle riders will be urged to stay off the roads.
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