Sunday, March 29, 2009

The Achievement of Earth Hour 2009

From Sydney Harbour to the Empire State Building, cities and world landmarks plunged into darkness as a symbolic energy-saving exercise unfolded across the globe. The pyramids at Giza in Egypt, the Acropolis in Athens and the Houses of Parliament in London cut their electricity as part of "Earth Hour," a worldwide call for action to avert potentially devastating climate change. Some 371 landmarks were due to power down worldwide, including the Eiffel Tower, Niagara Falls, the Las Vegas casino strip and Beijing's "Bird's Nest" Olympic stadium.

The global grassroots movement began in Sydney two years ago, when 2.2 million people switched off their lights. Earth Hour has since grown to include 3,929 cities, villages and localities across the globe.

The Earth Hour 2009 event began dramatically as Sydney's iconic Opera House and Harbour Bridge plunged into darkness on Saturday night, killing their lights for an hour, followed later by the glittering Hong Kong waterfront.

Lights in the "city that never sleeps" began going dark at 8:30 pm (0030 GMT) at some of New York City's most renowned buildings and landmarks, including Broadway theaters, the Empire State Building, the Chrysler Building and the signs of several big firms, including Coca-Cola's in Times Square.

In Washington, campuses of major universities and several embassies flipped the switch. People gathered at Freedom Plaza, which has an unobstructed view of the US Congress, to watch the lights dim on nearby buildings and hotels.

In London, the lights went off at the Houses of Parliament and the famous electronic billboard at Piccadilly Circus.

In Paris, hundreds of monuments and buildings, from the Louvre and Notre Dame Cathedral to the Arc de Triomphe, all went dark. For safety reasons, the lights on the Eiffel Tower were switched off for only five minutes.

Elsewhere across Europe, St Peter's Basilica in Rome and the Greek parliament in Athens were all plunged into darkness, while entertainers danced in front of the Romanian parliament in Bucharest.

In Egypt, the Giza pyramids, the Cairo Tower and the Alexandria Library on the Mediterranean all went dark.

In the United Arab Emirates, which has the highest per capita energy consumption in the world, Dubai's iconic sail-shaped seven-star Burj al-Arab hotel turned off its nightly multi-colored light show.

Mountaineers planned to raise an Earth Hour flag on the 29,000-foot (8,848-meter) summit of Everest, the planet's highest point.

The lights went dark in downtown Manila, as they did in the world's tallest completed skyscraper, the Taipei 101 building.

In South Africa, Table Mountain was to be seen only by starlight for an hour. And the Weekender newspaper reported that one couple would turn the lights down on their marriage at a vineyard near Cape Town.

This report on Earth Hour 2009 was summarized from Landmarks go dark for world climate campaign.

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