Lights off as ‘Earth Hour’ circles the globe

WASHINGTON, March 27, 2011 (AFP) – Lights went off around the world Saturday as landmark buildings and ordinary homes flipped their switches while the annual “Earth Hour” circled the planet in what was dubbed the world’s largest voluntary action for the environment. In Paris a minute’s silence was observed for Japan as the city of light went dark, with illuminations switched off at the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame cathedral, City Hall, opera houses and many bridges, fountains and public places.

Sydney’s Opera House was the first of many global landmarks to go dark as the event got under way, as hundreds of millions of people prepared to follow suit to enhance awareness of energy use and climate change.

Others in their turn included Beijing’s “Bird’s Nest” stadium that hosted the 2008 Olympics, the London Eye ferris wheel, Times Square in New York and Brazil’s Christ the Redeemer statue.

Many were switching off their floodlighting, advertising signs and other illuminations for an hour from 8:30 pm local time. “The amount of power that’s saved during that time is not really what it’s about,” Earth Hour co-founder and executive director Andy Ridley told AFP in Sydney, where the movement began in 2007.

“What it is meant to be about is showing what can hap