Lights out: biggest show of climate concern ever?
“It promises to be largest demonstration of public concern about climate change ever attempted”, according to U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.
He’s not talking about something like an international series of protest marches, a coordinated shift to buying greener goods, nor a boycott of cars in favour of public transport.
What he wants is simply for you (and at least a billion other people) to turn out the lights for an “Earth Hour” on Saturday, March 28, from 8.30 p.m. local time.
This 60 minutes of darkness has really caught the public imagination — a year ago in the same event an estimated 50 million people worldwide joined in turning off lights after the idea started in Sydney in 2007 when 2.2 million homes and businesses took part. Now the target is for at least a billion people ( … and the organisers including WWF conservation group have even got Ban to make a video message about it).
“I urge citizens everywhere to join us,” Ban says. “We are on a dangerous path, the planet is warming and we must change our ways.”
U.N. headquarters in New York will turn off the lights, along with landmarks such as the Eiffel Tower in Paris or the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. The combination photo top right, by Tim Wimborne, shows Sydney Harbour Bridge before and after the switches were thrown last year.
Organisers suggest 10 ways to spend Earth Hour, such as a candlelight dinner (don’t be surprised if shares in candle-making companies rally this coming week), a night picnic in a park (if you live in a city you might even see the stars) or a romantic night with your loved one (if you work in a hospital maternity ward I reckon you may have to work overtime around Christmas and New Year 2010 to deliver a rush of babies).
So why has the lights off idea taken off so well? And has it made people more aware of saving energy at other times of the year? Any suggestions about what to do?