NEW YORK, March 31, 2019 (BSS/AFP) – New York’s Empire State Building,
Egypt’s pyramids, London’s Big Ben and Rio’s Christ the Redeemer statue were
among the world’s most renowned monuments plunged into darkness for an hour
Saturday as part of a global campaign to raise awareness about climate change
and its impact on the planet’s vanishing plant and animal life.
The 13th edition of Earth Hour, organized by green group WWF, saw millions
of people across 180 countries turn off their lights at 8:30 pm to highlight
energy use and the need for conservation.
The event comes after some of the most dire warnings yet on the state of
Earth’s natural habitat and species.
“We are the first generation to know we are destroying the world. And we
could be the last that can do anything about it,” WWF said.
“We have the solutions. We just need our voices to be heard.”
WWF-Australia CEO Dermot O’Gorman told AFP that “Earth hour still is the
world’s largest grassroots movement for people to take action on climate
“It’s about individuals taking personal action but joining with hundreds
of millions of people around the world to show that not only do we need
urgent action on climate change but we need to be protecting our planet,” he
Dozens of companies around the world said they would take part in this
year’s campaign, which also saw Singapore’s skyline go dark and Hong Kong
turn off the lights along Victoria Harbour.
In New York, the riverfront United Nations headquarters turned black, as
did the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin and Saint Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican.
Other global landmarks that flicked the switch included Sydney’s Opera
House, the Eiffel Tower and Arc de Triomphe in Paris, Dubai’s Burj Khalifa —
the world’s tallest skyscraper — the Acropolis in Athens, Shanghai Tower and
the Kremlin building in Moscow.
WWF’s own “Living Planet” report in October said 60 percent of all animals
with a backbone — fish, birds, amphibians, reptiles and mammals — had been
wiped out by human activity since 1970.
In Cali, Colombia, people lit candles to form a “60+” sign as part of the
Earth Hour events.
Another study said a recent decline in bugs that fly, crawl, burrow and
skitter across still water — fueled by deforestation, urbanization and the
rise of commercial farming — was part of an unfolding mass extinction event,
only the sixth in the last half-billion years.
Last year, Earth Hour was observed in more than 7,000 towns and cities in
187 countries, according to the organizers.
While the lights-off event is a symbolic gesture, Earth Hour has led
successful campaigns over the past decade to ban plastics in the Galapagos
Islands and plant 17 million trees in Kazakhstan.