March 28, 2008
Earth Hour, started by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) last year in Sydney, Australia, goes global this Saturday, as millions of people in over 200 cities worldwide power down and turn off their electricity for one hour, beginning at 8:00 p.m. local time, to voice their concern about climate change and global warming. It’s the largest voluntary global power down in history; even such icons as the Sears Tower in Chicago, the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco and the Sydney Opera House will power down, while all 485 McDonalds in the Greater Chicago area will turn off their golden arches. Will you join in the WWF’s goal of reducing annual emissions by five percent?
Starting in Christchurch, New Zealand; Earth Hour will travel through 14 time zones and at least 10 countries, wrapping up in San Francisco. Other North American cities participating include Atlanta, Chicago, Denver, Montreal, Ottawa, Phoenix, Toronto and Vancouver.
Canada has one of the highest participation rates, with over 150 cities powering down. Landmarks such as the CN Tower, Niagara Falls and all City of Vancouver buildings have signed on for Earth Hour, and Nelly Furtado will perform a free celebratory concert at Toronto’s Nathan Phillips Square which will be powered by a green company, Bullfrog Power. (Bullfrog sources its energy from wind and water rather than carbon sources such as coal and oil.) You can watch energy demand go down with kilowatt counters at Vancouver City Hall, the University of British Columbia and at Hartley Bay, BC. (During the first Earth Hour in Sydney, the goal was to save five percent on energy usage for the day; the actual savings were 10.3 percent. If the one hour were sustained for a year, it would be equal to taking over 48,000 cars off the road for a year.)
International cities pledged to participate include Bangkok, Bogota, Copenhagen, Dublin, Haifa, Manila and Tel Aviv.
MySpace, Google, The Weather Channel, the Environmental Protection Agency, Cox Enterprises, the National Education Association and the American Bird Conservancy are some of the organizations participating. U.S. sponsors include Hewlett-Packard, National Geographic and esurance; Canadian sponsors include the Toronto Star and Virgin Mobile.
Have some fun reducing your human footprint: read a book by candelight or take time for friends and family, go star-gazing or simply sit on your deck and enjoy the sound of silence.
Watch “Earth to America,” a Blue Man video about global warming, or learn more at Earth Hour.org.
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