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This is a combination picture taken before and after the lights at the main roundabout at the main business district are turned off during Earth Hour in Jakarta, Indonesia on Saturday. From the Great Pyramids to the Acropolis, the London Eye to the Las Vegas strip, nearly 4,000 cities and towns in 88 countries planned to join in the World Wildlife Fund-sponsored event, a time zone-by-time zone plan to dim nonessential lights between 8:30 p.m. and 9:30 p.m.
This is a combination picture taken before and after the lights at the main roundabout at the main business district are turned off during Earth Hour in Jakarta, Indonesia on Saturday. From the Great Pyramids to the Acropolis, the London Eye to the Las Vegas strip, nearly 4,000 cities and towns in 88 countries planned to join in the World Wildlife Fund-sponsored event, a time zone-by-time zone plan to dim nonessential lights between 8:30 p.m. and 9:30 p.m.

SYDNEY â The floodlit cream shells of the famed Opera House dimmed Saturday as Sydney became the world’s first major city to plunge itself into darkness for the second worldwide Earth Hour, a global campaign to highlight the threat of climate change.

From the Great Pyramids to the Acropolis, the London Eye to the Las Vegas strip, nearly 4,000 cities and towns in 88 countries planned to join in the World Wildlife Fund-sponsored event, a time zone-by-time zone plan to dim nonessential lights between 8:30 p.m. and 9:30 p.m.

Involvement in the effort has exploded since last year’s Earth Hour, which drew participation from 400 cities after Sydney 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.

Despite the boost in interest from the Copenhagen negotiations, organizers initially worried enthusiasm for this year’s event would wane with the world’s attention focused largely on the global economic crisis, Earth Hour executive director Andy Ridley told The Associated Press. Strangely enough, he said, it’s seemed to have the opposite effect.

“Earth Hour has always been a positive campaign; it’s always around street parties, not street protests, it’s the idea of hope not despair. And I think that’s something that’s been incredibly important this year because there is so much despair around,” he said. “On the other side of it, there’s savings in cutting your power usage and being more sustainable and more efficient.”

In Australia, people attended candlelit speed-dating events and gathered at outdoor concerts as the hour of darkness rolled through the country. Sydney’s glittering harbor was bathed in shadows as lights dimmed on the steel arch of the city’s iconic Harbour Bridge and the nearby Opera House.

Earlier Saturday, the Chatham Islands, a group of small islands about 500 miles (800 kilometers) east of New Zealand, officially kicked off Earth Hour by switching off its diesel generators. Soon after, the lights of Auckland’s Sky Tower, the tallest man-made structure in New Zealand, blinked off.

Forty-four New Zealand towns and cities participated in the event, and more than 60,000 people showed up for an Earth Hour-themed hot air ballooning festival in the city of Hamilton.

At Scott Base in Antarctica, New Zealand’s 26-member winter team resorted to minimum safety lighting and switched off appliances and computers.

The U.N.’s headquarters in New York and other of its facilities were dimming their lights for an hour to signal the need for global support for a new climate treaty in Copenhagen in December. The first round of climate negotiations this year begins Sunday in Bonn, Germany.

U.N. Secretary Ban Ki-moon called Earth Hour “a way for the citizens of the world to send a clear message: They want action on climate change.”

“We are on a dangerous path. Our planet is warming. We must change our ways. … We need sustainable energy for a more climate-friendly, prosperous world,” Ban said.

China was participating in the campaign for the first time, with Beijing turning off the lights at its Bird’s Nest Stadium and Water Cube, the most prominent venues for the Olympics, according to WWF. Shanghai was also cutting lights in all government buildings and other structures on its waterfront, while Hong Kong, Baoding, Changchun, Dalian, Nanjing and Guangzhou were also participating, WWF said.

However, the official WWF Earth Hour Web site appeared to be blocked in Beijing, Shanghai and Tianjin on Saturday afternoon. While China rarely gives reasons for blocking Web sites, the campaign coincided with the 50th anniversary of the suppression of an uprising in Tibet that forced the Dalai Lama to go into exile.

In Hong Kong, the government planned to suspend its nightly “Symphony of Lights,” which beams lasers and lights into the sky from 44 buildings on the city’s famed Victoria Harbor. Landmarks along the harbor also were to switch off nonessential lights for an hour.

Thailand’s Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva pressed a button that switched off the lights on Khao San Road, a famous haven for budget travelers in Bangkok that is packed with bars and outdoor cafes. City officials then hosted an hour-long outdoor seminar on global warming that offered ideas for reducing energy consumption.

The lights also went out at the Grand Palace and other riverside monuments, and on several of the Thai capital’s busiest boulevards.

On Bangkok’s bustling Silom Road several street vendors hawking pirated DVDs, T-shirts and fake watches chipped in by turning off the bulbs that light their stalls.

Earth Hour organizers say there’s no uniform way to measure how much energy is saved worldwide.

Earth Hour 2009 has garnered support from global corporations, nonprofit groups, schools, scientists and celebrities â including Oscar-winning actress Cate Blanchett and retired Cape Town Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

McDonald’s Corp. planned to dim its arches at 500 locations around the Midwest in the United States. The Marriott, Ritz-Carlton and Fairmont hotel chains and Coca-Cola Co. also planned to participate.

Archived comments

Since Excel meters my electricity and charges me accordingly, I always turn off the lights when not needed.

Doesn’t everybody?

Excel doesn’t modify their electricity output capacity on an hour by hour basis.Therefore, no less CO2 will be generated.The “saved” electricity is just wasted.

omni

3/28/2009 11:59:01 AM

a nice empty stunt that does nothing to solve our actual problems

bandelier

3/28/2009 1:24:05 PM

I can’t wait to celebrate!I’ll turn on every light in the house (including lights in the closets and stove), leave the fridge and freezer open so the lights stay on, put the Christmas lights back up (indoors and out), run both cars with the headlights set to bright, turn on all the lights in the garage and basement, and leave all outdoor lights on all night long (just for fun).You’ll be able to see my place from space.

Happy Earth Hour!

ThatCertainWoman

3/28/2009 1:39:30 PM

I hate these empty gestures that allow people to think they’re actually doing something. This will have no effect one way or the other on global warming and I think we’re already aware.

I’ll join you, ThatCertainWoman, in your celebration. Don’t forget to leave your microwave open too, one more light to leave on! And I think I’ll turn my oven on to 450 degrees and bake some nice biscuits.

birdmother15

3/28/2009 3:21:18 PM

“I hate these empty gestures that allow people to think they’re actually doing something.”

Therefore, it is perfectly logical to pretend you’re “fighting against” said empty gesture with an equally empty gesture.Bravo!Fight fire wth fire!When it’s 95 degrees in the Summer, turn up the daggum heat!That’ll show those those darn tree huggers…that’s right, you’re making a REAL difference!

{Stands and applauds}

Dr_Belfrey

3/28/2009 3:43:29 PM

CertainWoman–

Definition.

“Spite: : petty ill will or hatred with the disposition to irritate, annoy, or thwart.”

Sounds like some teenage angst here.

……………

And btw, omni, you totally missed the point.No, not everyone does–it’s the point. It’s a campaign about promoting awareness. It’s a more more abstract push and not just about your simple-minded ANALysis.

inert_gas

3/28/2009 4:21:17 PM

I drank some hydrocodone cough syrup and listened to my Led Zeppelin discography.WTF.

visigoth

3/28/2009 5:07:21 PM

I am going to unplug my laptop from the power cord for one hour to show my solidarity to this cause.It’s the least I can do.

bouldermeister

3/28/2009 5:12:24 PM

You know, everything isn’t literal.

birdmother15

3/29/2009 1:31:19 AM

How about nobody has sex and babies for one hour? Especially having 8 at once.

I think THAT would truly change things.

You see, when considering the greatest risk to this planet’s future, population should be at the focal point, not light bulbs.

Perhaps this is the so-called 800 pound gorilla in the room that nobody wants to look at. However, if we REALLY cared about the planet, we’d address this issue.

Just my opinion.

GradyWilson

3/29/2009 9:49:21 AM

Energy already produced, and on the grid.

Not using it, only goes to waste.

Nobody’s really doing anything substantive.

Oh, but doesn’t it feel all warm and fuzzy?

Liberalism is a mental disorder.

Greatgarloo

3/29/2009 11:05:07 AM

Amen, GradyWilson, Amen

aross@annehross.com

3/29/2009 11:16:41 AM

When the lights went out I ran to the nearest bank and was very, very disappointed to see that they had shut the vault door.

So what I’m saying is the lights-out did not help me last night.

Pinda_Lick_o_yi

3/29/2009 12:46:19 PM

“How about nobody has sex and babies for one hour?”

Hint: You can do one without the other Grady. Try it sometime.

Kemo_Wasabi

3/29/2009 1:18:43 PM

I did a little experiment last night. I took before and during photos.It appears that Boulder didn’t significantly participate.

http://www.mytowncolorado.com/photo/boulder-earth-hour-2009?context=latest

lidarman@yahoo.com

3/29/2009 1:20:57 PM

Kemo,

Are you telling me that you missed the point?

Or are you telling me that you need to be overly critical of everything and everyone?

Pitiful either way.

Rather than redirecting the subject toward yourself through what you believe is humor, just stay on the point (if you’re capable).

You know what I meant you miserable ego manic.

GradyWilson

3/29/2009 1:33:54 PM

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