Earth Hour

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The logo for Earth Hour
Earth Hour Banner in Vietnam: "Turn off your lights for Earth's future

Earth Hour is a global event organized by WWF (World Wide Fund for Nature, also known as World Wildlife Fund) and is held on the last Saturday of March annually, asking households and businesses to turn off their non-essential lights and other electrical appliances for one hour to raise awareness towards the need to take action on climate change. Earth hour was conceived by WWF and The Sydney Morning Herald in 2007, when 2.2 million residents of Sydney participated by turning off all non-essential lights.[1] Following Sydney's lead, many other cities around the world adopted the event in 2008.[2][3]


[edit] Earth Hour 2009

To raise awareness for Earth Hour 2009 during the week leading up to it, Arla Foods coloured their Swedish milk cartons black-grey, as distinct from the typical white-green.

Earth Hour 2009 was from 8:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. local time, March 28, 2009. 88 countries and more than 4,000 cities joined Earth Hour 2009, ten times more cities than Earth Hour 2008 had (2008 saw 400 cities participate).[4] One billion "votes" was the stated aim for Earth Hour 2009,[5] in the context of the pivotal 2009 United Nations Climate Change Conference.

Among the participants in 2009 was, for the first time, the United Nations headquarters in New York City.[6] The U.N. conservatively estimates that its participation will save $102 in energy. [7]

Reports show that the Philippines topped the Earth Hour participation as 647 cities and towns or over 15 million Filipinos were estimated to have joined in the hour-long lights-off at 8:30 - 9:30 PM local time. This was follwed by Greece with 484 cities and towns participating, and Australia with 309. [8] [9]

[edit] Energy saved

The Capital city of India, Delhi's power demand fell by 1000MW. The “phenomenal” dip is attributed to the Earth Hour observed by Delhi on Saturday evening and the rain that brought the mercury down by a few notches. [10]

The Canadian province of Ontario, outside of Toronto, saw a decrease of 6% of electricity while Toronto saw a decrease of 15.1% (nearly doubled from 8.7% the previous year) as many businesses darkened, including the landmark CN Tower [11]

Swedish electricity operator Svenska Kraftnät recorded 2.1% decrease in power consumption from its projected figure between 8 p.m. and 9 p.m. The following hour, the corresponding number was 5%.[12] This equals the consumption of approximately half a million households out of the total 4.5 million households in Sweden.[13]

According to Vietnam Electricity Company, Vietnam electricity demand fell 140,000 kWh during Earth Hour.

The Philippines was able to save 611 MWh of electricity during the time period, and is said to be equivalent to shutting down a dozen coal-fired power plants for an hour. [9]

In Ireland, the equivalent of 700,000 lights went off for the hour, leading to electricity consumption dropping 2 percent for the hour. Total electricity consumption dropped by about 70 megawatts during the period, resulting in a saving of 30 tonnes of CO2 emissions. This compares to the 50 megawatts saved during 2008's Earth Hour.[14]

[edit] Participation

[edit] 2009 Participants

[edit] Participating TV channels

  • Philippines' ABS-CBN Broadcasting Corporation's cable news channel ANC ceased transmission during Earth Hour. [15]
  • Malaysia's 8TV halted transmission for one hour starting from 8:30 p.m.[16]
  • Canal 5 in Mexico halted transmission for one hour in Mexico City at 8:30 p.m.[citation needed]
  • Cartoon Network and Magic 105.4 FM broadcast Earth Hour at 8:30 p.m. for the event.
  • The National Geographic Channel suspended regular progamming for an hour and showed how to reduce energy consumption during Earth Hour.
  • DhiTV and Villa TV halted transmission for one hour in Maldives from 8:30pm.
  • Naga City's internet radios Zone105 and X FM Naga in the Philippines participated on the Earth Hour 2009 by turning off all their equipments and going offline starting 8:30PM (GMT +8).[17]

[edit] Earth Hour 2008

Earth Hour 2008 was held internationally on 29 March 2008 from 8 p.m. to 9 p.m. local time, marking the first anniversary of the event. With 35 countries around the world participating as official flagship cities and over 400 cities also supporting, Earth Hour 2008 was celebrated on all seven continents. Iconic landmarks all around the world turned off their non-essential lighting for Earth Hour, including the Sydney Opera House (Sydney, Australia), Empire State Building (New York City, USA), Sears Tower (Chicago, USA), Golden Gate Bridge (San Francisco, USA), Bank of America Plaza (Atlanta, USA), Space Needle (Seattle, USA), Table Mountain (Cape Town, South Africa), the Colosseum (Rome, Italy), Royal Castle (Stockholm, Sweden), London's City Hall (United Kingdom), the CN Tower (Toronto, Canada), SM Mall of Asia, SM Science Discovery Center (Manila, Philippines), Suva (Fiji), Nidaros Cathedral (Trondheim, Norway), The Royal Liver Building (Liverpool, United Kingdom), Petronas Twin Towers (Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia), KL Tower (Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia), and Wat Arun Buddhist Temple (Bangkok, Thailand).

The official website for the event,, received over 6.7 million unique visitors in the week leading up to Earth Hour. Other websites took part in the event, with Google's homepage going "dark" on the day Earth Hour took place.

According to a Zogby International online survey 36 million people participated in Earth Hour 2008. The survey also showed there was a 4 percentage point increase in awareness of environmental issues such as climate change, directly after the event.[citation needed]

[edit] 2008 Participants

[edit] Partner cities

Earth Hour 2008 included the following partner cities.[18]



North America


South America

[edit] Supporting cities

Other cities and regions that also supported the event include:[19][20]




North America


South America

[edit] Supporting universities

[edit] Scheduling

Sydney Harbour Bridge and Opera House were darkened during Earth Hour 2007.

Before 2008, San Francisco had been running its own "Lights Out" program in October.[25] In 2008 it was moved to March 29 to align with Australia's Earth Hour. This also happened to be the year that Earth Hour became an international event and San Francisco was asked to be a partner city in Earth Hour. Rather than have a competing event, San Francisco decided to support Earth Hour and all Lights Out efforts have now moved to supporting the international Earth Hour event. Since Earth Hour for 2008 was on a Saturday, many high schools in the Greater Toronto Area participated by turning off half the lights in classrooms during the last hour of school on Friday, March 28, 2008. Although the tagline of Earth Hour 2008 was officially, "See the difference you can make," the official radio advertisement ended with the tagline, "Dark city, bright idea."

Many buildings in Sydney also turned off their lights in 2007.

Tel Aviv scheduled their Earth Hour for Thursday March 27, 2008 to avoid conflict with Sabbath.[26] Dublin moved their Earth Hour to between 9 and 10 p.m. due to their northern geographical location.[27]

[edit] Energy saved

Colosseum darkened for Earth Hour 2008

According to WWF Thailand, Bangkok decreased electricity usage by 73.34 megawatts, which, over one hour, is equivalent to 41.6 tonnes of carbon dioxide.[28] The Bangkok Post gave different figures of 165 megawatt-hours and 102 tonnes of carbon dioxide. This was noted to be significantly less than a similar campaign initiated by Bangkok's City Hall the previous year in May where 530 megawatt-hours were saved and 143 tonnes of carbon dioxide emission was cut.[29]

In the Philippines it was noted by the Philippine Electricity Market Corp. that power consumption dropped by about 16 megawatts in Metro Manila, and up to 56 megawatts in Luzon island.[30] The maximum demand drop of around 39 MW was experienced at 8:14 p.m. in Metro Manila and of around 116 MW at 8:34 p.m. in the Luzon grid..[31]

Toronto saved 900 megawatt-hours of electricity. 8.7% was saved if measured against a typical March Saturday night.[32]

Ireland, as a whole, had a reduction in electricity use of about 1.5% for the evening.[33] In the three-hour period between 18:30 and 21:30, there was a reduction of 50 megawatts, saving 150 megawatt-hours, or approximately 6 tonnes of carbon dioxide.[34]

Golden Gate Bridge and Marin Headlands public open space in the background, before (inset) and during Earth Hour 2008

In Dubai, where external lighting on several major city landmarks was turned off and street lighting in selected areas was dimmed by 50%, the Electricity and Water Authority reported savings of 100 megawatt-hours of electricity. This represented a 2.4% reduction in demand compared to before the hour began.[35]

The Sky Tower in Auckland, New Zealand, switched off its usual floodlighting during the Earth Hour, and re-lit afterwards.

The best result was from Christchurch, New Zealand. The city reported a drop of 13% in electricity demand. However, Transpower reported that New Zealand's power consumption during Earth Hour was 335 megawatts, higher than the 328 megawatt average of the previous two Saturdays.[36] Melbourne, Australia saved 10.1% of electricity. Sydney, being the city that participated both 2007 and 2008 Earth Hour, cut 8.4% electricity consumption. This is less than last year's 10.2%, however Earth Hour executive director Andy Ridley made the claim that after factoring margin of error, the participation in this city is the same as last year.[37]

The worst result was from Calgary, Canada. The city's power consumption actually went up 3.6% at the hour's peak electricity demand. [38] In Calgary, however, where weather plays a large role in power consumption, the city experienced weather 12°C colder than the previous Saturday's recorded temperature.[39]

[edit] Celebrations around the world

[edit] Google

A web screenshot of Google Canada's 'darkened' homepage on March 29, 2008.

Earth Hour has also received free publicity from the Google corporation. From 12:00 a.m. on March 29, 2008 until the end of Earth Hour, the Google homepage in the United States, Colombia, Canada, Denmark, Ireland and the UK was turned to a black background. Their tagline is, "We've turned the lights out. Now it's your turn - Earth Hour."[48] However, Google stated that for 2009 they would not turn the page black again due to the confusion it caused many users.[49] A common misconception is that having a black background on a web page reduces the power consumption of monitors; LCD monitors use a constant amount of power regardless of which colors are shown. This is not the case for Organic LED monitors,[50] though they are not currently in popular use.

[edit] TV channels

  • Earth Hour was covered extensively in the United States with segments on Oprah, NBC Nightly News, CBS Evening News, The Today Show, Good Morning America, CNN, CNN International, The Weather Channel and more. Several stations around the United States went live with their coverage including NBC in Atlanta who did an hour long Earth Hour special during the event.[citation needed]
  • Canada's The Weather Network moved its studios outside between 8 and 9 p.m. EDT for Earth Hour, using only an LED light for the hour.[51]
  • The Agenda with Steve Paikin on TVOntario ran its full program running only on candle light. [52]

[edit] Earth Hour 2007

Earth Hour was held on March 31 in Sydney, Australia at 7:30 pm, local time.

Overview of Sydney in Earth Hour 2008

[edit] Measurement of reduction in electricity use

According to figures from EnergyAustralia, a local utility, mains electricity consumption for the 2007 event in Sydney was 2% lower during the Hour than would be expected given the time, weather conditions and past four years' consumption patterns.[citation needed] The Herald Sun equated this with "taking 48,613 cars off the road for 1 hour."[53] Critics, most notably Columnist Andrew Bolt, labelled this as "A cut so tiny is trivial - equal to taking six cars off the road for a year".[54] In context, the six cars equates to there being six fewer cars on the road at any given point of time in the day or night. In response to this criticism, the organisers of Earth Hour counter that "If the greenhouse reduction achieved in the Sydney CBD during Earth Hour was sustained for a year, it would be equivalent to taking 48,616 cars off the road for a year."[55] and they also note that the main goal of Earth Hour is to create awareness around climate change issues and "to express that individual action on a mass scale can help change our planet for the better."[55] and not about the specific energy reductions made during the hour being all that's required.

The 10.2% figure[clarification needed] was itself challenged by David Solomon, a finance student at the University of Chicago. Without citing data sources or the analytical methods he claims to have used, Solomon says he used eight years of electricity usage data to conclude that the Earth Hour-inspired drop was 6.33%, and that after other potential factors were taken into account, 2.10%, "statistically indistinguishable from zero."[53] In some areas in the Northern Hemisphere, it will be twilight at 8 p.m., removing some of the advantages of the event.[56]

[edit] Fairfax Media coverage

Media Watch, a television show scrutinising the press, reported on claims that Fairfax publications, The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age had run misleading and even manipulated photographs of the event.[57] The program shows Before and After photos published by the papers and provides commentary that the photos may or may not have been manipulated by overexposure or taking "before" picture 2 days early, as many businesses shut down their lights for the entire evening, precluding an accurate before and after shot comparison on the same evening.

The Australian, a competing news outlet, said that journalists at Melbourne's Age newspaper claimed they had been pressured not to write negative stories about Earth Hour because of the parent company's sponsorship arrangement. The Australian went on to say that on April 10, a statement from the journalists claimed that "Reporters were pressured not to write negative stories and story topics followed a schedule drafted by Earth Hour organisers".[58]

[edit] Criticism

The criticisms of Earth Hour include:

  • The City of Phoenix spent $3,000, partly to pay city employees to shut off its lights for an hour during Earth Hour 2008. Critics[citation needed] also claimed that because Earth Hour volunteers drive around to get the word out, and because people use inefficient battery operated flashlights instead of more efficient [mains current] light bulbs, it's possible that Earth Hour actually resulted in a net increase in energy usage. However, this would not be the case if everyone used energy-saving LED flashlights, or candles, and walked or biked to get the word out. A spokesperson for the World Wide Fund for Nature responded saying "The purpose of the event was not to save money or power. It's a symbolic event."[59]
  • The Christian Science Monitor said that most candles are made from paraffin, a heavy hydrocarbon derived from crude oil, a fossil fuel, and that depending on how many candles a person burns (if one uses candles during Earth Hour), whether or not they normally use compact fluorescent light bulbs, and what source of energy is used to produce their electricity, in some cases, replacing light bulbs with candles will cause an increase, instead of a decrease, in carbon dioxide emissions. [60]
  • An alternative celebration of "Human Achievement Hour" was promoted by the libertarian think tank the Competitive Enterprise Institute to celebrate the advancement of human prosperity.[61] Participants in this celebration were asked to "celebrate the achievements of humanity such as eating dinner, seeing a film, driving around, keeping the heat on in your home ".[62]
  • The Ayn Rand Institute wrote, "Participants spend an enjoyable sixty minutes in the dark, safe in the knowledge that the life-saving benefits of industrial civilization are just a light switch away... Forget one measly hour with just the lights off. How about Earth Month... Try spending a month shivering in the dark without heating, electricity, refrigeration; without power plants or generators; without any of the labor-saving, time-saving, and therefore life-saving products that industrial energy makes possible."[63]
  • Although in support of Earth Hour, the "Carbon Sense Coalition" wants Earth Hour to be renamed "Blackout Night," and to be held outside on the shortest and coldest day of the year " prepare our population for the dark days ahead".[64][65]
  • Bjørn Lomborg, author of The Skeptical Environmentalist, wrote, "It is vital to make solar and other new technology cheaper than fossil fuels quickly so we can turn off carbon energy sources for a lot longer than one hour and keep the planet running... Fossil fuels literally gave us an enlightenment, by lighting our world and giving us protection from the fury of the elements. It is ironic that today's pure symbolism should hark back to a darker age." [66]

[edit] See also

[edit] References

  1. ^ "Earth Hour - Earth Always :: Sydney Media". City of Sydney. 2007-05-18. 
  2. ^
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  7. ^,2933,511102,00.html
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  9. ^ a b Record power savings for RP in Earth Hour 2009]
  10. ^
  11. ^
  12. ^
  13. ^
  14. ^ Irish Times - Up to 700,000 lights go out as Ireland switches off
  15. ^
  16. ^ 8TV (Malaysia)
  17. ^
  18. ^ "Cities - Earth Hour 2008". WWF. Retrieved on 2008-03-29. 
  19. ^ "Supporting Cities". WWF. Retrieved on 2008-04-06. 
  20. ^ "Someone get the lights". Toronto Star. March 2008. pp. X6-7. 
  21. ^ "Indonesia Businesss Supporters - Earth Hour 2008". WWF. Retrieved on 2008-03-29. 
  22. ^ a b "Ora Pamantului - Earth Hour 2008". Retrieved on 2008-03-29. 
  23. ^ "Trondheim kommune - Earth Hour 2008". Trondheim kommune. March 2008. Retrieved on 2008-03-29. 
  24. ^ "VOCM". March 2008. Retrieved on 2008-03-29. 
  25. ^ Tyler, Nate. "Lights Out San Francisco". Retrieved on 2008-03-29. 
  26. ^ Ross, Oakland (March 28, 2008). "Tel Aviv rock concert gets power from pedals". Toronto Star: pp. A1, A10. Retrieved on 2008-03-29. 
  27. ^ Winsa, Patty (March 27, 2008). "Someone get the lights". Toronto Star. Retrieved on 2008-03-29. 
  28. ^ "Canadians go dark with world for Earth Hour". CBC. March 2008. Retrieved on 2008-03-30. 
  29. ^ "Lights out campaign disappointing: Bangkok helps save very little energy". Bangkok Post. March 2008. Retrieved on 2008-03-30. 
  30. ^ "Earth Hour made dent in power use". Philippine Daily Inquirer. March 31, 2008. Retrieved on 2009-03-29. 
  31. ^ "WWF calls for ‘lights out’ event in 2009". Philippine Daily Inquirer. December 11, 2008. Retrieved on 2009-03-29. 
  32. ^ "Toronto hits energy target". Toronto Star. March 2008. Retrieved on 2008-03-30. 
  33. ^ "Ireland uses less power for 'Earth Hour'". RTÉ News. March 2008. Retrieved on 2008-03-30. 
  34. ^ a b "Call for continuation of Earth Hour ethos". March 2008. Retrieved on 2008-03-31. 
  35. ^ "Dubai slashes energy use for Earth Hour". Arabian Business. March 2008. Retrieved on 2008-04-01. 
  36. ^ Lights on, power use up for Earth Hour. Kelly Andrew. The Dominion Post. Monday, 31 March 2008.
  37. ^ "Where do we go from here?". Toronto Star. 2008-03-31. pp. A1,A17. Retrieved on 2008-03-31. 
  38. ^ "Calgary's Earth Hour effort uses more power, not less". Global Calgary. 2008-03-30. Retrieved on 2008-03-30. 
  39. ^ "Edmontonians cut power consumption by 1.5 per cent during Earth Hour". Edmonton Journal. 2008-04-01. Retrieved on 2008-04-07. 
  40. ^ Potter, Mitch (March 2008). "Scandinavia darkens". Toronto Star. Retrieved on 2008-03-29. 
  41. ^ "Furtado headlines free Earth Hour concert in Toronto". CBC. March 2008. Retrieved on 2008-03-29. 
  42. ^ "Earth Hour at York's Observatory". York University. March 2008. Retrieved on 2008-03-30. 
  43. ^ "David Dunlap Observatory". WWF. Retrieved on 2008-03-30. 
  44. ^ "Celebrate Earth Hour at the Science Centre". Ontario Science Centre. Retrieved on 2008-03-30. 
  45. ^ "Tel Aviv rocks to Earth Hour". Toronto Star. Retrieved on 2008-03-31. 
  46. ^
  47. ^
  48. ^ "Earth Hour". Google. Retrieved on 2008-03-29. 
  49. ^ "An hour for the Earth". Google. Retrieved on 2009-03-28. 
  50. ^
  51. ^ "The Weather Network - Earth Hour 2008". The Weather Network. Retrieved on 2008-03-30. 
  52. ^ "Earth Hour by Candlelight". Retrieved on 2009-03-28. 
  53. ^ a b Soloman, David (2007-05-09). "Rage, rage against dimming of the light". The Australian.,20867,21694864-7583,00.html. Retrieved on 2008-03-29. 
  54. ^ Bolt, Andrew (2008-03-28). "Earth Hour coverage should be grounded". Herald Sun.,21985,23443475-5000117,00.html. Retrieved on 2008-03-31. 
  55. ^ a b Information about Earth Hour 2008, history, 2007 - Earth Hour 2008
  56. ^ "Earth Hour too early?", The Canadian Magazine of Astronomy & Stargazing XIII (6): 37, March/April 2008 
  57. ^ "Media Watch: Flicking The Switch". ABC. 2007-04-09. Retrieved on 2008-03-29. 
  58. ^ Age blighted by bias, selling its soul | The Australian
  59. ^
  60. ^ Does lighting candles for Earth Hour defeat the purpose?, Christian Science Monitor, March 27, 2009
  61. ^
  62. ^
  63. ^ The Real Meaning of Earth Hour, Ayn Rand Institute, March 23, 2009
  64. ^ Turn out the lights? Not everyone's on board Earth Hour, Christian Science Monitor, March 28, 2009
  65. ^
  66. ^ Hour of no power increases emissions, The Australian, March 27, 2009

[edit] External links

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