Planet Earth plunges into darkness for an hour

MSNBC

Whoa! What happened to Sydney in the photo above? Was there a major power outage or something?

Fortunately no – although what actually happened was something even more important than a power outage. At 8PM local time on March 29, Sydney was one of the first cities to participate in ‘Earth Hour’, in which households, towns and even major cities around the world turned off their lights for an hour to try to help save our planet. And as you can see from the photos, the effect was quite impressive.

NASA Earth Hour started last year as a Sydney-only event, but this year it’s spread to the whole world thanks to WWF funding. By the time you read this, chances are that it will be past 8PM in the U.S., where buildings from the CNN Center in Atlanta to the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco will be thrown into darkness.

It’s all very well doing publicity stunts like Earth Hour, but do they really make a difference? Skeptics would say they’re just a gimmick – people are more bothered about the excitement of a candlelit dinner than about the real message of Earth Hour.

NASA But I really do think it will make people think. In some cities office workers were forced to turn their lights off on Friday evening so that they didn’t have to go in again on Saturday – maybe next week they’ll remember to do it again. And of course any publicity about saving the environment is always a good thing.

Oh yeah, and there’s one other huge advantage of having lights out for an hour – as you can see from the Sydney photo, the normally orange, light-polluted sky turned black during Earth Hour, making it one of the only times Sydney residents can ever see the stars above their heads.

Let’s just hope that Earth Hour can become an annual tradition all around the world. Put March 29 in your 2009 diary!

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9 Responses

  1. Hallo Richard.
    I was looking for pictures taken at “Earth hour”, and found your blog. It seems interesting, and I have made a link at my blogroll now.
    We had a nice dark hour here in Denmark.
    Greetings,
    Birgitte.

  2. Thank you for showing the benefits of darkness in conserving our planet. What if that one hour is extended for longer hours?

    Not every cities and town need to work 24 hours. Why could not be out by 12pm every night? How energy would saved then.

  3. Hey Richard, I just got home after a walk around downtown Toronto, and we did actually see the stars — Orion was pretty bright considering we were standing in front of City Hall (in the dark, with a huge crowd watching an “unplugged” concert).

    What did you do to mark Earth Hour?

  4. Richard,
    Google had blacked out the background on their search engine at http://www.google.com. A caption below the search box said, “We’ve turned out the lights. Now it’s your turn. Earth Hour.” Google did this help help raise awareness for energy conservation.

    Bill

  5. Hi Richard,
    Nice pairing of the two photos. You are right about the beauty of the night sky. I am reminded of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.:
    “…that only when it is dark enough, can you see the stars.”
    Our response at ValleyZen to Earth Hour is here:

    http://www.valleyzen.com/2008/03/29/valleyzen-shuts-down-for-earth-hour/

  6. Earth Hour is idiotic… and dangerous. By stated facts, dividing down Australia’s gross national product, if every city in Australia were to participate in Earth Hour it would cost an estimated $50,000,000.00 in lost productivity, even at night. That is the salary of 1000 jobs for an entire year! All to stave off how much pollution exactly?

    Enough to fill one medium sized thimble. That’s right.

    That is the consequence of Gunpoint Environmentalism: Poverty.

  7. Wow – thanks for all the comments everyone! 🙂

    @Birgitte: Thanks for the compliments – your blog’s great too. I’m glad to see Denmark was celebrating Earth Hour – it seems like pretty much every country in the Western world and loads more in other places turned the lights off for Earth Hour.

    @Dr.Patau Rubis: Linked to what you’re saying is the extremely wasteful but common practice of leaving office lights on all night and all weekend, even when no-one is in the building. Hopefully Earth Hour will remind people to turn them off next weekend.

    @Gillian: Glad to hear you could see the stars – I live in a village so I’m lucky enough to be able to see them anyway, even when the lights are on. I didn’t do anything much for Earth Hour – but of course I turned all my lights off except an energy saving one I used for an hour of quiet reading. 🙂

    @Bill: It’s great to hear Google getting involved with the environment. You can see a screenshot of Earth Hour Google here:

    @Drue Kataoka: That’s a great post you’ve done – an interesting angle on Earth Hour. MLK’s comment seems very appropriate here. Well remembered!

    @Sheila: Sorry, but I think you’ve exaggerated your figures. Show me where you got them from and maybe I’ll believe you. Anyway, it’s important that people realize that saving our planet won’t be cheap in the short term – but the long term benefits will make any expense now worth it.

  8. Hello!
    Very Interesting post! Thank you for such interesting resource!
    PS: Sorry for my bad english, I’v just started to learn this language 😉
    See you!
    Your, Raiul Baztepo

  9. Hi ! 😉
    I am Piter Kokoniz. Just want to tell, that I like your blog very much!
    And want to ask you: will you continue to post in this blog in future?
    Sorry for my bad english:)
    Tnx!
    Your Piter Kokoniz, from Latvia

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