townsvillebulletin. com. au Global movement a symbol of support
LIGHTS DIMMED: The Eiffel Tower’s famous lighting fell into darkenss as part of Earth Hour LIGHTS went off around the world on Saturday as landmark buildings and ordinary homes flipped their switches while the annual ‘‘ Earth Hour’’ circled the planet in what was dubbed the world’s largest voluntary action for the environment.
In Paris a minute’s silence was observed for Japan as the city of light went dark, with illuminations switched off at the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame cathedral, City Hall, opera houses and many bridges, fountains and public places.
Sydney’s Opera House was the first of many global landmarks to go dark as the event got under way, with hundreds of millions of people prepared to follow suit to enhance awareness of energy use and climate change.
Others in their turn included Beijing’s ‘‘ Bird’s Nest’’ stadium that hosted the 2008 Olympics, the London Eye ferris wheel, Times Square in New York and Brazil’s Christ the Redeemer statue.
Many were switching off their floodlighting, advertising signs and other illuminations for an hour from 8.30 pm local time.
‘‘ The amount of power that’s saved during that time is not really what it’s about,’’ Earth Hour co-founder and executive director Andy Ridley told AFP in Sydney, where the movement began in 2007.
‘‘ What it is meant to be about is showing what can happen when people come together.’’
R i d l e y s a i d a r e c o r d 1 3 4 countries or territories were on board for this year’s event.
Organisers also asked people to commit to an action, large or small, that they will carry through the year to help the planet.
Ridley said Earth Hour, organised by global environment group the WWF, this year would also focus on connecting people online so they could inspire each other to make commitments to help protect the environment.
In Australia, organisers said an estimated 10 million people, nearly half the population, took part, with Sydney Harbour Bridge another of the landmarks to go dark.
Hong Kong’s neon waterfront dimmed, while in Singapore all decorative lights were switched off and non-c r i t i c a l o p e r a t i o nal l i g ht s lowered at Changi Airport.
In Japan, which is reeling from a huge earthquake and tsunami that struck this month, several thousand p e o p l e a n d a h o t e l - t u r n e d - evacuation centre in the northeast marked Earth Hour.
‘‘ People in Japan will have a special feeling this year when they turn the switches off,’’ WWF spokeswoman Hideko Arai said ahead of the switch-off.
In Russia some cities were joining in, from PetropavlovskKamchatsky, the most easterly city o n t h e Kamchat k a p e n i n s u l a , through to Moscow to Murmansk in the far north.
I n Athens monuments b e i ng darkened included the Acropolis, the parliament building, the presidential palace and the temple of Poseidon near the city.
Lights went out in 52 Romanian cities, where concerts and candlelight marches were organised.