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Climate Change: The Darkest Hour

  • March 28th, 2009
  • Posted by Amelia Birnie

At 8:30pm tonight, people from all corners of the world will turn off their lights for one hour – Earth Hour – and cast their vote for action on climate change.

A total of 3,929 cities in 88 countries have signed up, with 829 iconic landmarks expected to darken, including the Sydney Opera House, London’s Big Ben, the Roman Colosseum and the Eiffel Tower in Paris.

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For the first time in history, people of all ages, nationalities, race and background will have the opportunity to use their light switch as their vote.

Switching lights off is a vote for the Earth, or leaving them on is a vote for global warming.

The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) is urging the world to switch off and reach the target of 1 billion votes, which will be presented to world leaders at the Global Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen this coming December.

This meeting will determine official government policies against global warming, replacing the Kyoto Protocol.


UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon yesterday urged citizens around the world to join WWF’s Earth Hour and demand action on climate change.

“Earth Hour 2009 promises to be the largest demonstration of public concern about climate change ever attempted and is a way for the citizens of the world to send a clear message,” Secretary-General Ban said.

Ban said that the United Nations would be doing its bit for Earth Hour.

“In New York, we will switch out the lights at UN Headquarters and other UN facilities around the world will also take part.”

Ban also underlined the seriousness of climate change and the need for a global climate deal to be agreed upon in Copenhagen.

“People will be telling their representatives to seal a deal in Copenhagen. A deal at the climate change talks that will protect people and the planet.”


While Earth Hour has received an overwhelming response this year, not all countries have embraced the event.

According to Earth Hour organizers, the only two G20 nations not participating are Japan and Saudi Arabia.

Earth Hour Executive Director Andy Ridley explained that the event has not resonated throughout countries like Japan as it has done elsewhere in the world.

“A lot probably gets lost in communication because a tiny little team in Australia kicked this thing off,” Mr Ridley said.


An ‘Anti-Earth Hour’ group on Facebook is urging members to “keep every light [they] own running during Earth Hour,” claiming this action will “change nothing.”

Danish author of “The Skeptical Environmentalist” Bjorn Lomborg told The Australian yesterday that Earth Hour participants using candles after switching off their lights would probably emit more CO2 gases than if they left their lights on.

“Earth Hour is an entirely symbolic gesture that creates the mistaken impression that there are easy, quick fixes to climate change,” Mr Lomborg said.

When it began in Sydney in 2007, 2 million Australians participated and last year the event went international with 400 cities joining in.


“UN Secretary General Urges Citizens To Join WWF’s Earth Hour,” World Wide Fund for Nature, Media Release, 27.03.09, (28.03.09).

“Earth Hour’s Call to Action on Climate Change Only Hours Away,” World Wide Fund for Nature, Media Release, 28.03.09, (28.03.09).

Jason Scott, “Earth Hour May Prompt 1 Billion to Turn Off Lights”, Bloomberg News, Perth, Australia, 27.03.09, (28.03.09).

Video: Official Earth Hour 2009 Video; WWF Earth Hour Organization.