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Saturday, March 28, 2009

Earth Hour 2009: Why it is important (Auckland, New Zealand, David Lim)

(Source: Philadelphia Science and Tech News Examiner)

On Saturday March 28 at 8:30 p.m., you can join a global call to action on climate change by participating in Earth Hour 2009.

Earth Hour 2009 is being promoted as the world’s first global election. Organizers at the World Wildlife Fund hope to reach a target of 1 billion “voters” who participate by switching off their lights. In this election, switching off your lights is a vote to promote awareness of climate change. These votes will be presented to world leaders at the United Nationals Climate Change Conference to be held in Copenhagen in December 2009.

By turning off the lights in your home at 8:30 p.m. (local time), your home will be celebrating alongside international landmarks such as the Shanghai Hong Kong New World Tower, Paris’ Eiffel Tower, Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio de Janeiro, Sydney’s Opera House, CN Tower in Toronto and Las Vegas’ MGM Grand Casino.

According to Earth Hour Executive Director, Andy Ridley, “In 2007, Earth Hour was held in one city, Sydney. A year later, the number of cities had skyrocketed to 371.” Participation has smashed through expectations and is a global event with more than 2700 cities in 83 countries committed to participating as of Wednesday March 25.

The Nighttime Lights of the World image showing light sources in the United States. at the World Wildlife Fund are urging the world to VOTE EARTH and reach the target of 1 billion votes, which will be presented to world leaders at the Global Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen 2009. At this 15th meeting of the United Nationals’ Climate Change Convention, government officials, United Nations representatives, and observer organizations will meet to negotiate an update to the Kyoto Protocol.

Egypt’s First Lady, Her Excellency Madame Suzanne Mubarak, will be participating in Earth Hour and in Egypt the lights on the Sphinx and Great Pyramids of Giza will go out. “United together, we can and will make a difference. I am pleased to offer my support of Earth Hour and am encouraged by the World Wildlife Fund's sustainability initiatives. Earth Hour heightens awareness and brings hope to the preservation of our shared planet’s precious environment today and for generations to come.” Why does it matter?

For years, the only manmade object visible from space was the Great Wall of China. Humanity’s dependency on the conveniences provided by the ready availability of relatively cheap electricity, has changed with the concept of “light pollution.” Regardless of an individual’s personal view on the causes of climate change (global warming), the environment is continuing to change. Excessive release of artificial light is a symptom of excessive electrical usage.

The effects of light pollution can be observed when people try to view the night sky in urban areas and only see the brightest of the stars. These people stand in awe when they look up at the truly dark sky and see the multitude of stars present. From an ecological perspective, there is good evidence that light pollution contributes to the disruption of bird migrations and interferes with normal night behaviors of nocturnal animals.

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