I’m so glad to see how countries around the world are now interested in environmental issues such as global warming and climate change. A few years ago these issues were considered jokes or hoaxes. Slowly, this wrong attitude is changing.
At 8 pm on March 29th millions of people in some of the world’s major cities used the simple action of turning off their lights for 1 hour to deliver a powerful message about the need for action on global warming.
Last Saturday evening, from the Sydney Opera House to Rome’s Colosseum, to the Sears Tower’s famous antennas in Chicago, floodlit icons of civilization went dark for Earth Hour, a worldwide campaign to highlight the threat of climate change.
The environmental group WWF (World Wide Fund For Nature) urged governments, businesses and households to turn back to candle power for at least 60 minutes starting at 8 p.m. wherever they were.
More than 380 towns and cities and 3,500 businesses in 35 countries signed up for the campaign that is in its second year after it began in 2007 in Sydney, Australia’s largest city.
The campaign began last year in Australia, and traveled this year from the South Pacific to Europe to North America in sync with the setting of the sun.
Earth Hour officials hoped 100 million people would turn off their nonessential lights and electronic goods for the hour. Electricity plants produce greenhouse gases that fuel climate change.
Earth Hour organizers have set themselves a monumental goal for next year’s event, aiming for 1 billion people to take part in the lights-off campaign as it enters its third year.
At last year’s inaugural event, 2.2 million Sydney citizens turned off the lights to raise awareness of climate change. That figure was expected to swell to 100 million across major world cities last Saturday.
WWF-Australia’s chief executive, Greg Bourne, wants to make the campaign truly global. “We had 2.2 million people involved in the first year, my fingers are crossed that we got 100 million worldwide during this one,” Mr Bourne said.
“My hope is that in the third year we get 1 billion people involved. If we can get between one-fifth and one-seventh of humanity involved in Earth Hour, it will be a message to governments that we want to move forward.”
Lights went out at the famed Wat Arun Buddhist temple in Bangkok, Thailand; shopping and cultural centers in Manila, Philippines; several castles in Sweden and Denmark; the parliament building in Budapest, Hungary; a string of landmarks in Warsaw, Poland; and both London City Hall and Canterbury Cathedral in England.
Internet search engine Google lent its support to Earth Hour by blackening its normally white home page and challenging visitors: “We’ve turned the lights out. Now it’s your turn.”
Even though the initiative was followed by many countries, others decided to turn its back. Much of Europe—including France, Germany, Spain and European Union institutions—planned nothing to mark Earth Hour.
Organizers of Earth Hour said that while switching off a light for one hour would have little impact on carbon emissions, the fact that so many people were taking part showed how much interest and concern at the climate crisis had taken hold. They said they plan a similar event March 28, 2009.
Nothing was done in my country Panama. I hope our government officials and civil leaders take heed and join the green bandwagon. Panama is still a tropical paradise, I want to keep it this way for many years to come.