Lights out for reef at Earth Hour

Whitsunday Times - - LOCAL NEWS -

THE theme of this year’s Earth Hour was par­tic­u­larly per­ti­nent for the Whit­sun­days, with lights turned off for one hour on Satur­day, March 29, in sup­port of the Great Bar­rier Reef.

Lo­cally, homes, businesses and even the tourism haven of Hamil­ton Is­land, joined 7001 cities, 152 na­tions and a dig­i­tal com­mu­nity of 354 mil­lion people, in turn­ing the ‘Lights out for the Reef’, from 8.309.30pm, in a stand to save the Great Bar­rier Reef from the im­pacts of cli­mate change.

Hamil­ton Is­land switched off the is­land’s prin­ci­pal light­ing in­clud­ing ex­ter­nal lights at the Reef View Ho­tel and lux­ury re­sort, qualia. Light­ing across all six­teen restaurants, in­clud­ing qualia’s Long Pavil­ion, was also turned off, al­low­ing guests to en­joy din­ner by can­dle light.

Mean­while two hun­dred can­dles lined the Bom­mie Deck at the Hamil­ton Is­land Yacht Club and staff were en­cour­ag­ing guests to go “elec­tric­ity free” in their guest rooms and homes.

Lo­cals, staff and is­land guests also had the op­por­tu­nity to watch the world-pre­miere Earth Hour docu- men­tary about the reef and cli­mate change at two sep­a­rate venues.

Hamil­ton Is­land’s CEO, Glenn Bourke, said the 2014 Earth Hour’s fo­cus on the Great Bar­rier Reef was a sig­nif­i­cant one for the des­ti­na­tion.

“As the largest in­hab­ited is­land of the Whit­sun­days is­lands, we would like to thank the WWFEarth Hour team for mo­bil­is­ing a world­wide fo­cus on this Aus­tralian nat­u­ral won­der,” he said.

“This fo­cus is more cru­cial than ever as plans for more dredg­ing along the reef are dis­cussed.

“Such plans would see five mil­lion tonnes of seafloor torn up and dumped in the Great Bar­rier Reef World Her­itage Area which con­cerns us greatly.”

Mr Bourke said dredg­ing was just one of many press­ing en­vi­ron­men­tal is­sues at hand threat­en­ing the reef.

He said other fac­tors such as car­bon pol­lu­tion, warmer ocean tem­per­a­tures, runoff from land use, ocean acid­i­fi­ca­tion and ris­ing sea lev­els were also a con­cern.

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