Earth Hour aims for hope in darkened world

A A A

Lights will go out around the world Saturday with hundreds of millions of people set to take part in the Earth Hour climate change campaign, which this year will also mark Japan's earthquake and tsunami.

From across the Pacific, to Australia, Asia, Europe, Africa and the Americas, iconic landmarks such as the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, New York's Empire State building and the Eiffel Tower in Paris will go dark.

"Earth Hour is like a New Year's Eve," Earth Hour co-founder and executive director Andy Ridley told AFP from the group's Sydney office.

"It's meant to be a celebration - it's a bit different this year because of the Japan stuff - but it's meant to be about hope and the future."

Ridley said in Sydney and other cities, some Earth Hour events would hold a minute's silence to mark the devastating 9.0-magnitude quake and subsequent tsunami in Japan this month that left more than 25,000 people dead or missing.

The disaster followed a deadly earthquake in New Zealand's Christchurch and massive floods in Australia in January, which devastated thousands of homes and ruined crops and infrastructure.

"It's been a bad start to the year, and I guess it's an opportunity to take a moment and think about that," Ridley said, adding that the campaign had a different focus in every location and not all events would mention Japan's catastrophe.

The Earth Hour movement, which aims to raise awareness about climate change by switching off lights for 60 minutes, hopes to bring people together to think about what they can do to reduce harmful carbon pollution blamed for rising temperatures.

Environmental group WWF International helped initiate Earth Hour in Sydney in 2007, and by 2010 the energy-saving event had grown to engage hundreds of millions of people in 4,616 cities and 128 countries and territories.

"We didn't imagine right at the beginning... it would be on the scale that it is now," said Ridley.

"And the fact that it is so cross-cultural, beyond borders and race and religion," he added, saying the event would never have grown so successfully without social networking sites such as Facebook.

This year organisers are focussing on connecting people online so they can inspire each other to go beyond the hour and make commitments to help the environment in their daily lives.

To do this they have created an online platform connected to the 14 top social media sites around the world, including Facebook and Twitter, which people will be easily able to access from mobile phones.

Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard this week backed Earth Hour.

"Earth Hour has become a special symbol of the determination of so many people to make a difference," said Gillard, who is facing stiff opposition to her plan to introduce a tax on carbon pollution in Australia.

Ridley said that despite the growth of the event, which organisers said was the largest voluntary action ever witnessed in 2010, the ideals of the global movement had not changed.

"When we first started this we were trying to effectively take the temperature, we were trying to prove or see whether, contrary to some commentators, whether or nor people cared (about climate change)," he said.

"I think there is a massive consensus for action, not just on climate change.

"The idea of this is not to engage in the 'why we can't do anything' debate but absolutely talk about what can be done."

The first lights going off Saturday will be in Fiji and New Zealand's Chatham Islands, before cities and landmarks around the world follow suit.

Other iconic structures due to go dark include the Sydney Opera House, Indonesia's National Monument, London's Eye and Brazil's Christ the Redeemer statue.

News
The surrealist comedian at the Q Awards in 2010
people
News
Russell Brand arriving for the book launch in East London
peopleRussell Brand cancels his book launch debate due to concerns about the make-up of the panel
Sport
Christiano Ronaldo enjoys his opening goal
champions leagueLiverpool 0 Real Madrid 3: Ronaldo and Benzema run Reds ragged to avenge thrashing from their last visit to Anfield
Arts and Entertainment
Awesome foursome: Sam Smith shows off his awards
music22-year-old confirms he is 2014’s breakout British music success
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
Six of the 76 Goats' cheese samples contained a significant amount of sheep's cheese
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
Contestants during this summer's Celebrity Big Brother grand finale
tvBroadcaster attempts to change its image following sale to American media group
Extras
indybest
Arts and Entertainment
Sir Nicholas Serota has been a feature in the Power 100 top ten since its 2002 launch
art
Arts and Entertainment
Sarah Dales attempts to sell British Breeze in the luxury scent task
tvReview: 'Apprentice' candidate on the verge of tears as they were ejected from the boardroom
News
Call me Superman: one of many unusual names chosen by Chinese students
newsChinese state TV offers advice for citizens picking a Western moniker
News
Wilko Johnson is currently on his farewell tour
people
Voices
New look: Zellweger at Elle's Women in Hollywood awards on Monday
voicesRenée Zellweger's real crime has been to age in an industry that prizes women's youth over humanity, says Amanda Hess
News
Let’s pretend: KidZania in Tokyo
educationKidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day
Life and Style
CHARGE BOOSTER: Aeroplane mode doesn't sound very exciting, but it can be a (phone) hacker's friend. Turning on the option while charging your mobile will increase the speed at which your phone battery charges
techNew book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone
Arts and Entertainment
Julianne Moore and Ellen Page are starring together in civil rights drama Freeheld
film
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Solutions Architect - Permanent - London - £70k DOE

£60000 - £70000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

General Cover Teacher

£110 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Reading: Great opportunities for Cover...

Maths Teacher

£110 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Reading: QTS Maths Teachers needed for...

Maths Teacher

£110 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Reading: QTS Maths Teachers needed for...

Day In a Page

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker
Renée Zellweger's real crime has been to age in an industry that prizes women's youth over humanity

'Renée Zellweger's real crime was to age'

The actress's altered appearance raised eyebrows at Elle's Women in Hollywood awards on Monday
From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Patrick Grafton-Green wonders if they can ever recapture the old magic
Thousands of teenagers to visit battlefields of the First World War in new Government scheme

Pupils to visit First World War battlefields

A new Government scheme aims to bring the the horrors of the conflict to life over the next five years
The 10 best smartphone accessories

Make the most of your mobile: 10 best smartphone accessories

Try these add-ons for everything from secret charging to making sure you never lose your keys again
Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time against Real Madrid: Was this shirt swapping the real reason?

Liverpool v Real Madrid

Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time. Was shirt swapping the real reason?
West Indies tour of India: Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

Decision to pull out of India tour leaves the WICB fighting for its existence with an off-field storm building
Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?