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Darkness Washes Around The Globe As Earth Hour Descends

Article written: 28 Mar , 2008
Updated: 26 Dec , 2015
by

35 countries, 26 major cities, 370 towns and literally tens of millions of people… What do they all have in common?

They’re all switching off their lights for one hour at 8:00 pm local time in a now staggering global event known as Earth Hour. From around the world, Universe Today readers made a huge impact.

For all of you who took the time to sign up for Earth Hour, I not only thank you for your participation, but have deeply enjoyed watching our effort expand over the last week. We literally melted down the server on our personal UT Earth Hour site with our responses! What a tremendous effort on all our parts.

In a matter of hours, and quite probably by the time you read this, the lights will begin to go down as Earth Hour descends. As darkness falls in Australia, city landmarks from Parliament House in Canberra to the Sydney Harbour Bridge, Melbourne’s Federation Square and the WACA ground in Perth will power down for an hour. Landmarks, cities and communities around the world will go dark – one by one – as Earth Hour reaches each time zone.

Says Earth Hour’s executive director Andy Ridley:

“Earth Hour is about everyone and every organisation, from individuals to global companies, joining together to own a shared problem – climate change. Governments and businesses are joining individuals, religious groups, schools and communities in this terrific movement that’s all about making a change for the better. It’s staggering to see so much support from across the globe.”

Can you picture yourself high above the Earth as city after city and home after home turn off the lights not long after the terminator of night has passed? As darkness washes around the globe, our voices will be heard – as well as seen – for anyone who cares to look.

If you won’t participate in Earth Hour simply because you don’t think it will make a change, then do so for astronomers who are celebrating the beginning of National Dark-Sky Week. How will it reduce light pollution, given that it only lasts a week and not everyone will participate? The main goal of NDSW is to raise awareness about the harmful effects of light pollution. It just isn’t possible for all of the light pollution in the world to disappear, but together we can. make difference, just like Earth Hour, and inspire us all to preserve the beauty of the night sky.

One thing is for certain, Earth Hour is huge news. And all of us here at Universe Today can be very proud that we are part of it.


25 Responses

  1. In New Zealand, over 95% of our electric power is from hydro power stations. The rest is from wind farms and a small amount from fossil fuel generation, (if it is still working).

    So the city of Christchurch in the South Island is responding to Earth Hour by shutting off as much electrical dependence as possible and lighting candles, thereby producing more of the gases we don’t want !!!!!!!!

    Am I missing something here?

  2. Jim says

    Why haven’t you put a link in the article to sign up?

  3. Earth Hour is the most idiotic thing I’ve seen these days.
    Wooohooo! We turn off our lights for an hour! What a deal! I’m sure the world will be saved thanks to that!

    Spending one hour to promote the use of safe, nuclear energy instead of fossil fuels would probably be much more useful.

  4. michael hall says

    this what change for the better is all about,all of us combining our compassion and care together for an hour of our precious time to make a statement…next is war,hunger,greed,etc…let’s change the world and ourselves in the process, it is an easy thing to CHOOSE.

  5. Steven Hedges says

    I often read the “bad” comments that others post, and all that shows is their ignorance. It is true, I can not hold my hand up and shout I am the most green person on this planet, however the one thing that these ignorant people are missing is the fact that we are trying to promote change here. The more you educate people about climate change, the more effort they will put in to actually changing. Simple things like not forgetting to turn off the light after you leave the room, these are the things that this day could promote. Making people stop and think. I never have room for negative criticism in my life, and to be honest, I think it is just needless, especially in this circumstance.

  6. Ken B. says

    More foolish ideas to promote the junk science of global warming. While I am sympathetic to the problems of light pollution as a sky watcher I will be turning my lights on for the hour to protest the nonsense that humans are causing global warming. Sorry, I mean climate change since the IPCC’s predictions are falling apart on global warming. I know some will call me ignorant or worse, but I have spent many many hours studying the science, and not just the science that has been adjusted to support political policy. I wonder if Al Gore will turn the lights off in his mansion that uses 20 times the energy of the average household. This climate change is the biggest scam the politicians have latched onto in a long time.

    I do agree with devicerandom, let’s promote nuclear energy and get rid of coal. Coal is dirty and does cause real contamination of the environment that’s not talked about because everyone is so worried about climate change.

  7. however the one thing that these ignorant people are missing is the fact that we are trying to promote change here. The more you educate people about climate change, the more effort they will put in to actually changing.

    So, educate people, instead of doing purposeless shows like the “earth hour”. The earth hour will just make a lot of people feel less guilty for a bit, and then go on as usual.

    Making people stop and think.

    People won’t stop and think. People will just think “omg cool”, and then continue their life as before.

    I never have room for negative criticism in my life, and to be honest, I think it is just needless

    Your assertion is self-contradicting. You are just negatively criticizing negative criticism.

  8. Ken B: I don’t think global warming is junk science (quite the contrary), nor I think people is not talking about coal because of global warming (again, quite the contrary: concerns about global warming are leading more and more people to think about using fossil fuels).

    Could there be some real initiative about promoting nuclear and/or renewable sources, instead of this “earth hour” waste of time?

  9. Mr. LAME says

    truly stupid 0o

  10. Member

    Ouch!

    Like many of you, I study science and I have my own personal opinions on the climate issues. I don’t hop aboard every bandwagon that comes along and start beating a drum just because I can.

    There is more to the thought behind Earth Hour than just the issues it represents. To me, this is a way that humankind can express its desire for change without the barrier of language, governments, politics or… personal opinions. Don’t you think, for just one second, that our unity is a huge wake-up call?

    This one hour in the huge sea of time – Earth Hour – is a way of expressing ourselves as human beings. No government is telling us we have to turn ’em off. No army is standing there with guns waiting to shoot us if we don’t.

    By learning to unify as a species, change can then occur. If we discover it’s not something we’re doing, then we’ll look for ways to change what is – or learn to adapt. If we’re going to change our world, then we can’t look to others to make the changes for us.

    A symphony starts with one note…

  11. Casey S. says

    I am with Ken B.. At 8:00 tonight I fully intend to turn on all of my lights in response to this ridiculousness.
    I enjoy the environment as much as the next guy, but when science is so obviously manipulated to advance political agendas’, I find it reprehensible. There is no ‘proof’ that global warming is even occuring, let alone that mankind is having any significant impact on the climate. I have read enough conflicting articles and science journals to know that we don’t yet understand how the extremely complex climate process works or what effects even natural influences have. The debate about what causes climate change is still going on; whether one side wants to acknowledge it or not.
    Maybe if we put our efforts into better understanding how the climate works instead of political expediency and propogandistic feel-good gestures we could actually gain a better understanding of how the global climate works and honestly face the issue of what, if any, impact humans have.

  12. Andrew J says

    Aussie! Aussie! Aussie!
    Oi! Oi! Oi!

    Gimme a break, please.

    All Earth Hour is intended to do is to in to bring awareness about climate change and that individuals are concerned about their rapidly warming planet. Power consumption drop merely by 15% in Sydney, Australia – a drop in the ocean in regards alleged power saving. However, it did made people aware of this looming crisis, and that humans have the responsibility to take care of their planet and their own backyard.

    What I find most worrying is the utter contempt by several in this forum, especially ones like Ken B. who pretends switching his lights on just to spite those with a small glimmer of hope that the world will not change for the worse – even in the slim or slenderest hope that climate change is not happening.
    Why is it that countries like the United States of America, have for the last century or so continue to consume 40% of the world resources (energy and material) when they only have 6% of the world’s population?
    In Australia, like the U.S., until very recently adopted a “head in the sand attitude”, avoiding their own responsibilities in curbing their excess forced on an contemptuous world. Instead, the media and the population of Sydney decided to express their concerns in a symbolic way – and in the process had a little fun with it – hoping to say we care for our planet.
    The best thing with Earth Hour in Sydney was people went outside and saw the difference individuals collectively could make. It actually showed there is hope for all our futures.

    After all this good old Earth is in YOUR gentle hands!

    Note: All I had was a candlelight supper with my girl and enjoying each other’s company. It was civilised and fun, and something we should do more often,

  13. DannyBoy says

    I agree that a link to: http://www.earthhourus.org (for us folk in NA) would have been helpful. I found it on the BBC.

    I also agree with Tammy that it is the unity of the people of the earth in doing just 60 minutes that are the steps towards a more “green planet”. We are a species that has a great need to change our attitude to the fact that we are changing the earth in a negative way.
    We ARE being affected now by our negetive impact on the earth, but will our children and grandchildren thank us if we continue this way.

  14. owen says

    I am sick of people saying me doing it wont make a difference. If everyone took this view we wouldn’t get anywhere. I think earth hour is a great step in the right direction, although we have alot further to go.

  15. Member

    It’s 8pm here, and my lights are off.

  16. Adriaan says

    Nothing new!

    Southern African cities turn off the lights (and all other power) regularly, daily in fact.

    Not for any cause, but for the simple reason that we do not have enough power for everyone.

    Power-rationing and load-shedding will continue for the next 5 years, beat that!

  17. Chicago Astronomer Joe says

    I documented the event from Chicago’s lakefront and the full narrartive and images can be found here:

    http://astronomer.proboards23.com/index.cgi?action=display&board=NightSky&thread=1206899421

    I had hoped for some darkening of the sky and perhaps have more stars pop out, but it wasn’t the case.

    I do appreciate the symbolic gesture and perhaps next year Chicago will do a better job.

    5 % is 5% and a start.

  18. Croatia_guy says

    Hi! I was just wandering about that “one-hour-shut-down”… What will happen to the electrical power grids of the countries around the world? To my knowledge power grids are not designed for drastic dynamic changes in power consumption. Although I myself try every day to be kind to the environment, I’m wondering what will happen next time when let’s say 30% of the population turn their lights off? I’m quite sure that the unused electrical energy will make a negative impact on the power grid, perhaps somewhere even extensive damage!? I’m just curious, personally I like the idea behind the Earth Hour.
    I’m not a native English speaker, so please excuse my possible mistakes.

  19. Cynthia says

    Well Commonwealth Edison in the Chicago area estimates that perhaps there was a 5% reduction in electric useage last night. I sure hope that helped the astronomers in Wisconsin.

  20. will day says

    what other foolishness will “they” come up with next?
    what will “they” say when their precious global warming theory is finally proven to be a hoax?
    “they” talk of wasting resources- but how many resources have been wasted in the pursuit of fixing something that is not broken? that is the question we need to asking.
    is it in the billions? trillions maybe of wasted resources.
    all the things “they” say need to be addressed, and “they” turn the lights out for one hour as a symbol? it is beyond silly at this point. so sad that somewhat smart people are being so easily duped because they need to believe that they can control the uncontrollable- if they could hurt the climate then they must believe they can fix it- must have one to have the other- but, alas, they can do neither- and blind faith is hard to overcome- believing and not seeing. scary stuff.
    now, who do we send the bill that all mankind is paying to satisfy these zealots?
    and “they” talk of wasting resources-
    “they” are going to have some explaining to do to the next generation that are going to reap the over cost of doing so much for nothing.
    yes “they” seem to be right- we are wasting resources.
    so sad- so very, very sad

  21. Nancy says

    I turned all the lights off in the house – early actually – and my husband and I and the dogs watched telly by candlelight (although he did threatened to rev the car for an hour!). I am by nature, a very skeptical person, and I’m not fully convinced that climate change/global warming whatever you want to call it, is entirely caused by human activity but rather that part of it is a natural cycle. To those that choose to believe that climate change/global warming isn’t happening and believe that nuclear energy is the only way to go are more than welcome to put a nuclear reactor in my back yard IF they can prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that a Chernobyl-type “accident” or something similar, will not happen. And they have a million light years to go before they can satisfy me on that point alone.

  22. Member

    No government made me turn off the lights for an hour. I don’t think the world suffered from a catastrophic crime wave during Earth Hour. I don’t think it had a huge physical impact, but perhaps we’ll know more in 9 months, eh?

    What I do know is that we took part in Earth Hour at the Observatory on Saturday night. I did not do so to plug any groups, nor did I invite politics into the situation. What happened was we had a group of scouts present for a program. By giving the program by candlelight, we planted the seeds for future generations. We didn’t hug any trees. We didn’t discuss government. We actually didn’t discuss global warming, either. We only shared that we cared enough to support change… and to support the efforts of our brothers and sisters around the world. Tomorrow’s future adults were before us… Should we have invited them to read some of the UT comments? Or just quietly lit a few candles and allowed them to make their own decisions about how tomorrow should be?

    Although supporting Earth Hour did not cause the beautiful aurora we all witnessed, I’d certainly like to think that less light pollution added to our ability to see it.

    Light a candle for tomorrow… And hope that it provides enough light to allow the blind to see that the future is in our hands.

  23. miahalf says

    One of the main arguments for this “Earth Hour” lights-out seems to be that it will unify all humans on the planet.

    But let me put forth this criticism: What if instead of striving for one hour of unified action, we each took *individual responsibility* for our own actions every single hour of every single day?

    Sure it *feels* great to stand up with a crowd, march tall and strong together… but feeling good isn’t what we need here. We need real change, and that isn’t going to happen overnight, or in one hour. It happens every day of the rest of your life.

    I had lights on during this hour – I make my living in part as a photographer, and I was involved in a photoshoot all evening. Does this make me a bad person because I didn’t jump on a bandwagon to be “unified” with the rest of the world?

    But let me tell you a few more things: I carpooled to this photoshoot. We use digital cameras which don’t waste plastic and silver as with conventional photography. I don’t own a car and use public transit as much as possible. I buy very little packaging and compost my food waste. Most of the food I buy is produced locally, and I also garden to supplement this. By gardening organically and with cover crops, I am also returning carbon to the soil and providing habitat for wild bees and other pollinators. And the lights? I just counted – I have 18 lights in my house, and most of them are off most of the time.

    So sure, I don’t feel “unity” with the rest of the human species, but I don’t want to! I don’t see how a herd mentality is going to help us improve our environment. While the rest of the herd is busy patting themselves on the back for their one hour of triumph, I will be out working in my garden.

    Oh, and if you light a candle for tomorrow, make sure it’s beeswax, or you might be putting lead and benzene into the air. And while you’re at it, make sure it’s organic beeswax, or you might be contributing to Colony Collapse Disorder.

  24. JohnH says

    EarthHour is as hilarious and meaningless as “Take Back the Night” night when we’re all supposed to sit on our front porches and be out in the streets showing those muggers, rapists and other criminals that we’re not gonna put up with their perpetrating crimes against us anymore! Until the next night and for the subsequent 363.25 nights when we give the streets back to them.

    Good thing everyone didn’t participate or at 9PM when all the lights came back on it would have blown the electrical grid.

    And you New Zealanders…shame! Think of the water you would have saved. Now all that water you wasted by not turning off your lights is gonna evaporate, cause greenhouse effect, high humidity and womens hair to lose it’s curl and go straight!

    Oh the humanities! πŸ˜‰

    Do’nt get me wrong – turn all the stupid outdoor lights off. Get rid of the light domes. Save the energy! Scare the urban youth back into their homes with simple darkness. Most urban dwellers know not what true darkness is and, at least the teenagers who went to my wifes camp in the middle of nowhere, turned into whining babies when the sun set and the crickets and owls started scaring the daylights out of them. πŸ˜€

  25. Ell Jay says

    More politics on the science blog. Seems like a good use for your Twitter.

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