Chicago (IL) - On Saturday, in over 4,000 cities and towns in 88 countries between the hours of 8:30 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. in individual's respective time zones, the lights were turned out in observance of Earth Hour. The message: conserve energy and become more environmentally aware. The event, environmentalists say, was a great success.
Activists for the environment have claimed that the success of "Earth Hour" should persuade governments to begin mandating climate change and the fight against global warming. The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) claimed "The world said yes to climate action, now governments must follow."
Earth Hour first debuted in 2007 as an event for Sydney, Australia. At that time, the WWF estimated two million people turned off their lights. In 2008, the event grew to 370 cities with an estimated 50 million in participation having turned off their lights. In 2009, it has already expanded to over 84 countries and may reach one billion people. Earth hour has been deemed the "world's first-ever global vote about the future of our planet" by the WWF.
The WWF claims lights were out in Acropolis, the Eiffel Tower, The London Eye Ferris wheel, The Pyramids of Egypt- Giza, Niagara Falls, The National Cathedral in Washington, D.C., The Golden Gate Bridge, The Las Vegas Strip, The Saint Louis Gateway Arch, New York City's Broadway theater signs, Rockefeller Center, and all the way to the Empire State Building.
The top climate official of the United Nations, Yvo de Boer, said the event is a sign that the world is willing to cooperate in the fight against global warming and human-induced climate change. "Earth Hour was probably the largest public demonstration on climate change ever. Its aim was to tell every government representative to seal a deal in Copenhagen. The world's concerned citizens have given the negotiations an additional and very clear mandate," said de Boer.
The executive director of Earth Hour, Andy Ridley told the Associated Press, "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."
This week's talks in Bonn will be centered on the effort to strike a deal which would control emissions of global-warming causing gases. In Copenhagen this December, a treaty would ideally be passed.