RT: Call of darkness: Earth Hour casts shadow over globe (Photos)

Published: 31 March, 2012, 13:52
Edited: 31 March, 2012, 19:10

Hour by hour, the Earth is plunging into darkness on Saturday. The dimming of lights is a symbolic gesture calling on the people to seek a better balance between humanity’s desire for consumption and the planet’s ability to sustain it.

This year’s Earth Hour is the sixth consecutive event to take place. What started as a local affair in Sydney back in 2007 now unites 135 countries around the world. This year, the action is dedicated to the Arctic.

For one hour starting at 8:30 p.m. local time, public organizations, private companies and individuals are switching off the lights and unplugging power-consuming devices. The world’s most famous tourist attractions will also go dark as their decorative lightning is switched off. London’s Big Ben, China’s Great Wall, Italy’s Coliseum, America’s Golden Gate Bridge and St. Paul’s Cathedral at the Vatican are among the many Earth Hour ‘participants.’

One of the first major world monuments to cut its lights was the Auckland Sky tower, New Zealand’s tallest skyscraper. Two hours later, the Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge in Australia followed suit.

“What began in Sydney as a simple idea to raise awareness of climate change – to switch off the lights for an hour – has become a global success,” Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard said.

In 2012, the event organized by the WWF (World Wide Fund for Nature) and supported by the United Nations has spilled into space. The crew of the International Space Station is also part of the global green action. European astronaut and WWF ambassador André Kuipers is taking photos and video footage of the Earth from orbit.

Another great scientific and technological facility, the Large Hadron Collider, will remain powered for the duration of the day. However, physicists working there will turn off the lights in their labs to mark their support for the event, the European Organization for Nuclear Research said.

Russia playing its part

In Russia, some 15 million people are expected to observe the Earth Hour, according to organizers’ estimates, which would be roughly 40 percent more than the previous year. Moscow’s celebration of the day will be centered at Vorobyovy Goary (Sparrow Hills), which is located right next to the campus of the Moscow State University in the city’s southwest.

Thanks to its elevation, it has a spectacular view of the capital’s skyline, so observers will be able to clearly see a total of 75 famous structures in Moscow going dark. Those include the Luzhniki stadium just across the Moscow River, Moscow City Hall, several high-standing buildings known collectively as “Stalin’s skyscrapers” (including the university’s central facility), several bridges and Moscow’s Academy of Sciences, among others.

Meanwhile, a spectacular celebration will be taking place on the hills themselves. Organizers plan a fire show, the launch of hundreds of sky lanterns and a laser show.

St. Petersburg’s contribution to the Earth Hour is centered at the city’s main Palace Square. The city will shut down lighting for the famous bridges across the Neva River, the Winter Palace, the Peter and Paul’s Fortress, the Central Naval Museum and other buildings.

Being stretched across nine time zones certainly doesn’t hurt Russia during Earth Hour. Whatever risks the sudden changes in power consumption may have are mitigated by the sheer size of Russia’s power grid.

A combination picture shows the Sydney Harbour Bridge and city skyline on March 29, 2012 (top) before Earth Hour, and during Earth Hour March 31, 2012. (Reuters / Tim Wimborne)
A combination picture shows the Sydney Harbour Bridge and city skyline on March 29, 2012 (top) before Earth Hour, and during Earth Hour March 31, 2012. (Reuters / Tim Wimborne)
Philippine police hold candles as they join the celebration of Earth Hour in Manila′s Makati financial district March 31, 2012. (Reuters / Cheryl Ravelo)
Philippine police hold candles as they join the celebration of Earth Hour in Manila’s Makati financial district March 31, 2012. (Reuters / Cheryl Ravelo)
People walk next to the Oriental Pearl Tower at Shanghai′s financial district during Earth Hour March 31, 2012. (Reuters / Carlos Barria)
People walk next to the Oriental Pearl Tower at Shanghai’s financial district during Earth Hour March 31, 2012. (Reuters / Carlos Barria)

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