Lights dim around globe to encourage reductions in carbon emissions
From the Great Pyramids to the Acropolis, and the London Eye to the Las Vegas strip, nearly 4,000 cities and towns in 88 countries joined in the World Wildlife Fund-sponsored event, a time zone-by-time zone plan to dim non-essential lights between 8.30pm and 9.30pm.
Dr Richard Dixon of WWF Scotland said: "Earth Hour was the biggest ever show of support for action on climate change.
"Millions of people showed world leaders they want strong action."
Interest has spiked ahead of planned negotiations on a new global warming treaty in Copenhagen this December. Organisers are calling Earth Hour a "global election", with switching off the lights seen as a vote for the Earth and failure to do so a vote for global warming.
Earth Hour executive director Andy Ridley said: "Earth Hour has always been a positive campaign. It's always around street parties, not street protests. It's the idea of hope, not despair. And I think that's something that's been incredibly important this year because there is so much despair around.
"The primary reason we do it is because we want people to think, even if it is for an hour, what they can do to lower their carbon footprint, and ideally take that beyond the hour."
Landmarks including the London Eye, the Gherkin and the BT Tower also took part last night, although activists warned companies in the financial sector they would have shut down electricity supplies themselves unless the lights went out.
Earlier yesterday, the Chatham Islands, a group of small islands 500 miles east of New Zealand, officially kicked off Earth Hour by switching off its diesel generators. Then Auckland's Sky Tower, the tallest manmade structure in New Zealand, blinked off.
Forty-four New Zealand towns and cities participated in the event, and more than 60,000 people showed up for an Earth Hour-themed hot air ballooning festival in Hamilton.
At Scott Base in Antarctica, New Zealand's 26-member winter team resorted to minimum safety lighting and switched off appliances.
In Asia, lights at landmarks in China, Singapore, Thailand and the Philippines also dimmed as people celebrated with candlelit picnics and concerts. Buildings in Singapore's business district went dark along with major landmarks, such as the Singapore Flyer.
China, which has overtaken the US as the world's top greenhouse gas emitter, was participating for the first time, with Beijing turning off the lights at its Bird's Nest Stadium and Water Cube, the two most prominent venues for the Olympics, according to the WWF.
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