Sat, Mar 28, 2009 - Page 7 News List

World prepares to power down for Earth Hour

AP , CHICAGO

The lights are going down from the Great Pyramids to the Acropolis, the Eiffel Tower to the Sears Tower, as more than 2,800 municipalities in 84 countries plan today to mark the second worldwide Earth Hour.

McDonald’s will even soften the yellow glow from some Golden Arches as part of the time zone-by-time zone plan to dim nonessential lights between 8:30pm and 9:30pm to highlight global climate change.

“Earth Hour makes a powerful statement that the world is going to solve this problem,” said Carter Roberts, chief executive of the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), which sponsors Earth Hour. “Everyone is realizing the enormous effect that climate change will have on them.”

Seven times more municipalities have signed on since last year’s Earth Hour, which drew participation from 400 cities after Sydney, Australia, held a solo event in 2007. Interest has spiked ahead of planned negotiations on a new global warming treaty in Copenhagen, Denmark, this December. The last global accord, the Kyoto Protocol, is set to expire in 2012.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon encouraged the convention to reach a fair and effective climate change agreement and promoted Earth Hour participation in a video posted this month on the event’s YouTube channel.

“Earth Hour is a way for the citizens of the world to send a clear message,” Ban said. “They want action on climate change.”

New studies increasingly highlight the ongoing effects of climate change, said Richard Moss, a member of the Nobel Peace Prize-winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and WWF’s climate change vice president.

“We have satellites and we have ships out at sea and we have monitoring stations set up on buoys in the ocean,” Moss said. “We monitor all kinds of things people wouldn’t even think about. The scientific research is showing in all kinds of ways that the climate crisis is worsening.”

This year’s Earth Hour has garnered support from global corporations, nonprofit groups, schools, scientists and celebrities — including Oscar-winning actress Cate Blanchett and Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

Nearly 200 US cities, towns and villages have signed on, from New York City — which will darken the iconic Empire State Building and Broadway marquees — to Igiugig, population 53 on Iliamna Lake in southwestern Alaska.

Among the efforts in Chicago, 50,000 light bulbs at tourist hotspot Navy Pier will dim and 24 spotlights that shine on the Sears Tower’s twin spires will go dark.

The Commonwealth Edison utility said electricity demand fell by 5 percent in Chicago and northern Illinois during last year’s Earth Hour, reducing carbon dioxide emissions by about 380 tonnes.

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