Lights out, landmarks go dark

Sydney’s iconic Opera House and Harbor Bridge went dark Saturday at the start of the Earth Hour, followed by cities across Asia in a global switch-off aimed at revitalizing efforts against climate change. Harbor ferry horns blared to signal the energy-saving event, which is supported by 4,000 cities in a record 125 countries and includes 1,200 famous landmarks from the Forbidden City to the pyramids to the Las Vegas Strip. “From Brazil to America, to Canada, all the way down to Australia, Japan and India – it is a really diverse set of countries taking part this year,” Earth Hour executive director Andy Ridley said.

Sydney’s office buildings plunged into gloom at 8:30 pm, setting off a rolling wave of darkness which will sweep the globe in a boost for the environmental movement after December’s disappointing Copenhagen UN talks. The WWF-run event had officially begun nearly three hours earlier when New Zealand’s Chatham Islands switched off their diesel generators, leaving just 12 street lamps burning. It will eventually end in Samoa after nearly 24 hours. On the way, most of the world’s top landmarks, from the Eiffel Tower to the Empire State Building and the Leaning Tower of Pisa, will turn off the lights to show their support for energy conservation.

Beijing’s Forbidden City and Bird’s Nest Stadium were among the participants along with dozens of cities in China, the world’s biggest carbon polluter, where giant panda Mei Lan is an Earth Hour ambassador. Hong Kong’s renowed neon waterfront dimmed as did office buildings in Jakarta, Seoul and Tokyo. In Japan, the city of Hiroshima turned off the lights at 30 sites, including the Hiroshima’s Peace Memorial.

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