Native Village Youth and Education News

April 1, 2009 Issue 196 Volume 1

Lights Put Out to Mark Earth Hour
By RUPA SHENOY (Associated Press writers around the world also contributed to this report)
Condensed by Native Village

Canberra, Australia

Chicago, Illinois:  On March 28, 2009, nearly 4,000 cities and towns in 88 countries joined to support  Earth Hour.  Sponsored by the World Wildlife Fund, Earth Hour's goal was to dim nonessential lights from 8:30 - 9:30 p.m.

Time zone by time zone, the lights went out:

New York City darkened massive billboards, including the giant Coca-Cola display. 

The Majestic Theater and other Broadway marquees went dark.


In Chicago,  Gov. Pat Quinn flipped a  light switch, and the  buildings behind him went dark.

More than 200 city buildings pledged to go dark, including shops along the Magnificent Mile.

The Smithsonian Castle, World Bank, National Cathedral and Howard University were among several buildings that went dark for an hour in Washington D.C.
In Santiago, Chile, lights were turned off at banks,  communications towers and many government buildings including the Presidential Palace where President Michelle Bachelet hosted a dinner for U.S. Vice President Joe Biden. The two leaders and dozens of guests dined in candlelight.
In Mexico City, city government and business owners turned off all "nonessential" lights at more than 100 buildings, including 31 city buildings and monuments and 17 hotels.
In San Francisco, some of the city's best-known landmarks went dark, including Coit Tower, the TransAmerica building and the Golden Gate Bridge.
Los Angeles dimmed the lights at the Griffith Observatory, the Santa Monica Ferris wheel, City Hall and other landmarks. 1,000 people attended a muted light event downtown.
In Bonn, Germany, activists held a candlelit party on the eve of a U.N. climate change meeting.
China cut the lights at Beijing's Bird's Nest Stadium and Water Cube, the most prominent 2008 Olympic venues.
In Bangkok, Thailand, the prime minister switched off the lights on Khao San Road, a haven for budget travelers packed with bars and outdoor cafes.
In Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, the iconic Christ the Redeemer statue that watches over the city  was darkened, along with the famed Copacabana beachfront and other local sites.
An Antarctic research base and the Great Pyramids of Egypt  dimmed their lights.
McDonald's Corp. planned to dim its arches at 500 locations around the U.S. Midwest. The Marriott, Ritz-Carlton and Fairmont hotel chains and Coca-Cola Co. also planned to participate.

 While Earth Hour organizers say there's no uniform way to measure how much energy was saved across the world, the message was loud and clear:

"C'mon, is it really necessary?" asked Mikel Rouse, 52.  " ... All this ridiculous advertising ... all this corporate advertising taking up all that energy seems to be a waste."

"I don't see why people shouldn't always turn off the lights," said 15-year-old Tyler Oria

 "Everybody was happy I (turned off, then dimmed the lights)," said restaurant owner Eli Rodriguez. "They support this. They understood."

"People want politicians to take action and solve the problem," said Kim Carstensen, director of the global climate initiative for WWF

"No matter what your individual beliefs are about climate change, energy efficiency is something everyone can understand in this economic environment," said WWF managing director Darron Collins.

"[Earth Hour is] a way for the citizens of the world to send a clear message: They want action on climate change, " said U.N. Secretary Ban Ki-moon.

The Earth Hour campaign began in Australia in 2007 and grew to 400 cities in 2008. Organizers worried that 2009's events would wane because of the global economic crisis. But Andy Ridley, Earth Hour executive director, said it had the opposite effect. "Earth Hour has always been a positive campaign; it's always around street parties, not street protests, it's the idea of hope, not despair," he said. "And I think that's something that's been incredibly important this year because there is so much despair around."

An agreement to replace the Kyoto Protocol, which expires in 2012, is supposed to be reached in Copenhagen, Denmark in December. The urgency to save our planet is reinforced by support for events like Earth Hour.

See Earth Hour photos from across the world:


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