Earth Hour 2011

The World Switches Off To Promote Global Sustainability

Credit: Jiaren Lau

Credit: Jiaren Lau

In 2007, nearly 2.2 million individuals and 2,000 businesses in Sydney, Australia turned their lights off for an hour to take a stand against climate change. In 2008, Earth Hour had become one of the world’s largest global sustainability movements, with close to 50 million people in 35 countries switching off their lights. Steadily growing, hundreds of millions of people took part in the third Earth Hour in 2009, and in 2010 a record 128 countries and territories joined in a united display against climate change.

Earth Hour is a global event organized by the World Wildlife Fund for Nature (WWF) and is held on the last Saturday of March annually. The goal of the initiative is to get families and households to switch off non-essential lights as well as other electronic appliances for an hour in support of power and energy efficiency.

Some of the world’s most iconic landmarks have participated in the initiative by going dark for an hour. A few of the landmarks include, from east to west: Olympic Stadium in Beijing, the Sphinx and Pyramids of Giza, Table Mountain in Cape Town, the Acropolis in Athens, the Coliseum in Rome, the Eiffel Tower in Paris, Buckingham Palace and Big Ben in London, Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio de Janeiro, New York’s Empire State Building and the Las Vegas Strip.

Though the environmental benefits of Earth Hour are massive, Earth Hour co-founder and executive director Andy Ridley insists the initiative is bigger than just saving energy. “The amount of power that’s saved during that time is not really what it’s about,” Ridley told the AFP in Sydney, Australia. “What [Earth Hour] is meant to be about is showing what can happen when people come together.”

This year’s Earth Hour took place on Saturday March 26 at 8.30 p.m. (local time). Here are some of the highlights from around the globe:

Chicago, United States

In Chicago, landmarks such as the Wrigley Building, the NBC Building, the Merchandise Mart (the U.S.’s largest building with LEED certification), Navy Pier, the Chicago Theatre, Willis Tower, and the Trump International Hotels and Towers switched off their lights as part of the Earth Hour initiative.

Hong Kong, China

In Hong Kong, China, more than 3,200 companies and buildings took part in the Earth Hour initiative – a record number of participants since the program began in 2007. Hong Kong’s Victoria Harbor, famous for its night scenery, also became dim during the hour by turning of the multitudes of neon signs and lights that line the shorefront.

Helsinki, Finland

Sixty-seven cities and towns, as well as some 350 enterprises and 150 communities and organizations took part in the Earth Hour program in Finland. Among the cities that took part was Helsinki, the nation’s capital, where even landmarks such as Helsinki Cathedral Church turned off its lights. Many Finnish power plants turned off their electric logos and ornamental lights during the hour, too.

Seoul, South Korea

Along with the numerous cities, towns, buildings and organizations that turned off their lights for Earth Hour, a number of South Koreans fought cold winds and climbed to the top of Mt. Nam, in central Seoul, to light candles as well as watch the lights dim across the city. A few of the major landmarks that took part were Gyeongbokgung Palace, Sejong Center for the Performing Arts, the Central Government Complex, and Gwanghwamun Square.

Johannesburg, South Africa

The Grammy award-winning group Soweto Gospel choir teamed up with numerous local musicians and gave a free candlelit concert to hundreds of spectators in the lower middle class-populated urban township of Soweto.

Los Angeles, United States

Los Angeles International Airport was one of the participants in Earth Hour, switching off the tall gateway pylons that glow green. The historic Long Beach hotel Queen Mary turned off all its exterior lights and even asked guests to switch off all non-essential lighting in their staterooms.

Earth Hour 2011 Official Video from WWF on Vimeo.

Kane Carpenter