On Saturday, 28 March 2009, at 20h30, lights will be turned off throughout the world for an hour.
The big switch-off is part of the annual Earth Hour campaign of the Worldwide Fund for Nature/World Wildlife Fund (WWF). The campaign was initiated in Australia a mere two years ago, when 2.2 million people in Sydney switched off their lights on 31 March 2007. The Sydney Opera House and the Sydney Harbour Bridge were plunged into darkness. (Wikipedia)
It rapidly spread across the globe for the next Earth Hour on 29 March 2008, with more than 50 million people switching off their lights as part of the global movement on climate change. Incredibly “Earth Hour  reached 370 cities and towns in more than 35 countries across 18 timezones” (see Earth Hour website). The Colosseum in Rome, the Coke billboard in New York’s Times Square and the Jumeirah Hotel in Dubai were in darkness for an hour.
The aim for 2009 is to reach 1 billion people in more than 1000 cities around the globe. These aren’t just individual householders, but also businesses and governments.
So far, according to the Earth Hour website, 77 countries and 680 cities have already committed themselves to participating. The cities include Cape Town, London, Moscow, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Sydney, Rome, Manila, Oslo, Warsaw, Lisbon, Singapore, Istanbul, Mexico City, Toronto, Dubai and Copenhagen. The only African countries involved thus far are South Africa and Kenya. You can see a map of the world with the participating countries tagged here. You can also read more here: South African Earth Hour news.
Some of the more well-known landmarks that will be left ‘in the dark’, so to speak, are these:
“At 8.30 pm on Saturday March 28, the world will witness some of the most recognisable landmarks on the planet dim the lights in support of decisive action on climate change. Icons switching off include the world’s tallest hotel building in Dubai – the Burj Dubai, the tallest free-standing structure in the Americas – the CN Tower in Toronto, Moscow’s Federation Tower and in Rome – Quirinale – the official residence of the President of the Italian Republic, Giorgio Napolitano. Further, Auckland’s Sky Tower – the tallest tower in the Southern Hemisphere will go dark, joined by Australia’s iconic sails of the Sydney Opera House and across in Cape Town, South Africa, the iconic Table Mountain will mark Earth Hour by turning off its flood lights.” (Article titled “WWF’s Earth Hour sparks worldwide unity” on WWF website)
It should be an absolutely extraordinary sight from outer space! I hope the team at the International Space Station (see astronaut Sandra Magnus’ Spacebook Blog, although I think she is unfortunately going to be heading back to earth soon) is going to take pictures of it.
So, we have a month to plan something interesting for that evening. How about inviting a bunch of good friends over for a delicious South African braai, by the light of lots of candles dotted around the garden?