Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Earth Hour 2009

It is another 11 days to Earth Hour 2009.

Earth Hour is an annual event created by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) to be held on the last Saturday of March. It is an event for everyone unless you are not from this planet. The whole idea about Earth Hour is to raise awareness towards the need to take action on climate change.

Earth Hour began in Sydney in 2007 when 2.2 million homes and businesses switched off their lights for an hour. In 2008, the message grew bigger and globally, 50 million people switched off their lights.

This year, Earth Hour is transformed into a global election. You choose between Earth and global warming.

WWF is urging the world to VOTE EARTH. To do that, you simply click off your light switch on 28 March 2009, from 8.30 pm to 9.30 pm, wherever you are. They have a target of 1 billion votes.

As of now, 1,429 cities and towns in 80 countries have already committed to VOTE EARTH. This far exceeds the target of 1,000 and the number is still growing.

Singapore is one of the cities.

On 13 March, international TV and model, Nadya Hutagalung signed up as an official ambassador for Earth Hour in Singapore. Since then, 12 government agencies, 28 educational institutions, 48 hotels, 131 companies, 75 buildings/ monuments and 12 NGOs/associations have given their commitment to participate in the Earth Hour.

One of the buildings is the iconic Esplanade Theatres and interestingly, I do not find the National Environment Agency on the list.

On 28 Mar, Nadya will be making a special appearance at the WWF Earth Hour big switch off event at the Esplanade Park and there will be a candlelight picnic there. Besides the Esplanade, the Merlion will also slip into darkness for an hour on that day.

Else where in the world, many cities such as London, Los Angeles, Toronto and Brussels are doing the same. Nearer to us are Hong Kong, Beijing, Kuala Lumpur, Bangkok, Manila, Jakarta and many more.

The City of Light, Paris, will also be leading 28 French cities in their pledge to support the Earth Hour. At their local time on 28 March, the Eiffel Tower will fade into darkness between 8.3o pm to 9.30 pm.

It is really remarkable to see some of the most recognised landmarks on the planet supporting EARTH HOUR. For an hour, the usually brightly lit Sydney Opera House, Taipei 101, CN Tower in Toronto and KL Towers in Malaysia will be amongst the many beautiful world icons to turn off their main switches.

For now, the famous Petronas Twin Towers are conspicuously missing from the list of supporters. I hope the well known twin 'Jagung" (sweet corn in Malay) can lend their support for EARTH HOUR too.

In 2007, EARTH HOUR was held in one city, Sydney. This year, we have more than 1000. The surge in enthusiasm suggests the heightened global awareness. As global warming is an issue affecting all of us on the planet, it should rightly so be everyone's concern.

This is the first time Singapore is taking part in this initiative and the organisers have a target of one million participants. There are many ways we can show our support besides switching off the lights on that day. One of them is by telling the others and I am doing just that. Or if it suits you better, you can consider joining the "Earth Hour Singapore" group in Facebook. Also check out the Earth Hour Singapore website.

1 billion people are expected to be part of this movement. Sign up and be counted as one of them.

We only have one planet Earth.

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