On Saturday night, Earth Hour 2013 achieved its goal of having people switch off the lights on landmarks, public and private buildings, and even in private residences around the world. The event was called “the single, largest, symbolic mass participation event in the world,” by its organizers, leading environmental advocacy group World Wildlife Fund.
This year, at 8:30 PM local time, over 7,000 cities in 152 countries participated by turning off non-essential lights. The purpose of the temporary “lights out” is to call attention to the issue of global climate change and the need for a wiser energy policy.
In a twist, instead of completely turning off the lights, Sydney, Australia’s iconic opera house dimmed its lights to a dark green to represent the need for renewable energy sources.
It was also the first year that the Kremlin participated in Earth Hour, which turned off its lights after a request from Russian Federation President Vladimir Putin. The floodlights that normally shine on St Basil’s Cathedral near Moscow’s Red Square were also switched off.
Now, if you’re grumbling that you had no idea, then don’t feel alone. In New York City, the Empire State Building dimmed its lights, and in Santa Monica, California, the famous Ferris wheel did the same. But, in much of the United States, the event went unrecognized — as it has since it was originally conceived in Australia in 2007.
Scientific American commentator Bill Kovarik wrote in 2012 that the cause of the low participation in the United States isn’t entirely clear. Maybe it’s Not Invented Here syndrome or maybe it’s competition from competing event Earth Day, which is widely celebrated in this country in April.
Fortunately, the Earth Hour video channel is jam-packed with videos of the event from around the world. If you have time to watch only one, try this look at where it all began in Sydney which also includes the stunning sight of Hong Kong’s harbor — famous for its “Symphony of Lights” — going spookily dark.
And, even if you missed out on this year’s Earth Hour, you can still show your concern by taking steps to save energy in your day-to-day life.
[photo Sydney Opera House Earth Hour 2013 courtesy earthhour.org, World Wildlife Fund, and photographer Simon Hewson]