New York's Empire State Building, Egypt's pyramids, London's Big Ben and Rio's Christ the Redeemer statue were among the world's most renowned monuments plunged into darkness for an hour on March 30, 2019 as part of a global campaign to raise awareness about climate change and its impact on the planet's vanishing plant and animal life.
The 13th edition of Earth Hour, organised by green group WWF, saw millions of people across 188 countries turn off their lights at 8:30 pm to highlight energy use and the need for conservation.
The event comes after dire warnings yet on the state of Earth's natural habitat and species. “We are the first generation to know we are destroying the world. And we could be the last that can do anything about it,” WWF said. “We have the solutions. We just need our voices to be heard.”
WWF-Australia CEO Dermot O'Gorman told AFP, “Earth hour still is the world's largest grassroots movement for people to take action on climate change.” “It's about individuals taking personal action but joining with hundreds of millions of people around the world to show that not only do we need urgent action on climate change but we need to be protecting our planet,” he added.
Dozens of companies around the world said they would take part in this year's campaign, which also saw Singapore's skyline go dark and Hong Kong turn off the lights along Victoria Harbour.
In New York, the riverfront United Nations headquarters turned black, as did the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin and Saint Peter's Basilica in the Vatican.
Other global landmarks that switched off included Sydney's Opera House, the Eiffel Tower and Arc de Triomphe in Paris, Dubai's Burj Khalifa—the world's tallest skyscraper—the Acropolis in Athens, Shanghai Tower and the Kremlin building in Moscow.
WWF's own Living Planet report in October 2018 said 60 per cent of all vertebrates—fish, birds, amphibians, reptiles and mammals—had been wiped out by human activity since 1970.
In Cali, Colombia, people lit candles to form a ‘60+’ sign as part of the Earth Hour events.
Celebrities and influencers worldwide raised their voice for the planet including Bear Grylls, Mark Ruffalo, Amitabh Bachchan, Claudia Bahamon, Hebe Tien and Yoko Ono.
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Another study said a recent decline in bugs that fly, crawl, burrow and skitter across still water, fueled by deforestation, urbanisation and the rise of commercial farming, was part of an unfolding mass extinction event, only the sixth in the last half-billion years.
In 2018, Earth Hour was observed in more than 7,000 towns and cities in 187 countries, according to the organisers.
While the lights-off event is a symbolic gesture, Earth Hour has led successful campaigns over the past decade to ban plastics in the Galapagos Islands and plant 17 million trees in Kazakhstan.
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