In case you have not heard, Earth Hour is at 8:30 pm on Saturday 28 March. Participants flick their light switches off for an hour in a coordinated and unified symbolic statement of concern for climate change and call for action. As of March 19, more than 1,800 cities are participating worldwide, including 155 U.S. towns, cities, counties and states. But so far, the U.S. government is entirely disengaged. Will it be asleep at the switch for Earth Hour?
Earth Hour originated in Sydney, Australia in 2007. Impressed by its success, the event’s organizer, the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), encouraged other cities to participate in 2008. More than 400 cities worldwide joined the effort, including Atlanta, Chicago, Phoenix, San Francisco and other U.S. communities. Again, the event was a success. With negotiations underway to reach an international agreement in Copenhagen, Denmark at the end of 2009 to seriously address climate change, WWF concluded that it was more important than ever to engage people around the world on the issue. The organization committed to organizing Earth Hour on Saturday, March 28, 2009 at 8:30 pm (local time), with an ambitious target of 1,000 cities worldwide. As of March 18, more than 1,800 cities had indicated they would participate — and the number is increasing daily. See EarthHourUS.org for information on the event in the U.S.; and EarthHour.org for details at the international level.
This will be the largest single demonstration of public concern about climate change to date. Among the participating capitals are Canberra, Australia; Ottawa, Canada; Beijing, China; Berlin, Germany; London, UK; Paris, France; New Delhi, India; Jakarta, Indonesia; Rome, Italy; Mexico City, Mexico; Warsaw, Poland; Moscow, Russia; Madrid, Spain; and Washington, DC. Prominent supporters range from UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and Lord Stern to Archbishop Desmond Tutu.
Conspicuously missing-in-action is the U.S. Government. A press release issued by WWF on March 17 lists major buildings in Washington, DC, whose lights will be dimmed for Earth Hour. None of the heavily illuminated government buildings and monuments in Washington are listed. Indeed, there is no indication that any buildings or monuments controlled by the U.S. government anywhere in the world will be darkened for Earth Hour.
More importantly, there is no public indication that either the Congress or the Administration recognizes this unprecedented opportunity to engage and inform the public on climate change, to build support for initiatives to curb emissions and prepare for the impacts of climate change, and to mobilize the public behind international negotiations leading up to a new climate treaty.
Will the Congress and the Obama Administration be asleep at the switch for Earth Hour? We hope not. In the last remaining week before the event, we call on President Obama and Congress to seize this opportunity and use it to advance U.S. consciousness on climate change. This is an hour that should not be lost.
- Video of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon announcing United Nations participation in Earth Hour and encouraging global participation.
- Video of Lord Stern explaining the importance of Earth Hour and encouraging participation.
- Alanis Morisette
for Earth Hour . Funny public service announcement.
- Flicking The Lights
Off. Parody of video F–ing Matt Damon
by Sarah Silverman
- Earth Hour video