I’m sure you’ve heard it all by now. Especially those of you who listen to the radio you must have heard a thousand variations of this message, “On 28 Mar 2009, from 8:30pm to 9:30pm, please switch off all your lights for one hour…. bla bla bla…. in support of Earth Hour….bla bla bla….”
Now, this whole Earth Hour business began at Sydney, when on 31 March 2007, 2.2 million homes and businesses switched their lights off from 7:30pm to 8:30pm. In 2008, it became an international event, participated by 35 countries and supported by over 400 cities, including Kuala Lumpur. For the 2008 edition, various global landmarks, such as the Golden Gate Bridge, the Sydney Opera House, and even the Petronas Twin Towers went through an hour of darkness on the night of 29 March 2008. Various sources of estimation put the number of participation anywhere between 36 million people right up to 50 million people.
Sydney, on Earth Hour 2008 (image source: Flickr, by user Leorex)
For 2009, the aim is more ambitious and the whole affair is blown to massive proportions. No less than 82 countries and 2100 cities have confirmed their participation and support, each turning lights off at 8:30pm of their local time. According to WWF, the folks behind this global event, all of us will be getting a vote in this “election” between Earth and global warming – switching your lights on is a vote for global warming, and switching them off is a vote for Earth – which is where you get all the “Vote Earth” catchphrases flying around these days.
WWF aims to get 1 billion ‘votes’ (don’t ask me how they do the counting) in favour of Earth, with the results to be presented to world leaders at the 2009 United Nations Climate Change Conference scheduled to place at Copenhagen in Dec 2009. The United Nations themselves have confirmed their participation in this event, with the lights at the UN building itself set to be switched off for an hour.
UN building will be joining in the fun too. (image source: Scrape TV News)
In the midst of all the buzz and frenzy generated, it is only natural for large corporations to show their support for this meaningful event one way or another. For example, I was reliably informed that the staff working Menara Standard Chartered in KL were told to leave work on time on Friday 27 Mar 2009, because the lifts will be switched off for a whole two hours from 6pm to 8pm.
Just for Malaysia alone, WWF has targeted 5 million signing-ups for Earth Hour, and among the participants here is the recently opened Bentley Kuala Lumpur showroom at the Pavilion shopping complex. All non-essential lights at their showroom, named The Gallery, will be switched off during the one hour, with their staff also pledging their support to the campaign individually, switching the lights at their homes off as well.
Bentley KL’s lights will also switch off for an hour. (image source: Nazray)
This participation, of course, is inline with the Bentley Environmental Strategy unveiled in 2008 where Bentley pledged to implement a three-stage strategy from then till 2012, where by then they would have reduced CO2 emissions by 15% across its entire range, introduced a new powertrain offering a remarkable 40% improvement in fuel economy and full compatibility of its range with renewable fuels.
Public opinion will always be divided between two schools of thought – one which ridicules the point of switching your lights off for just that hour and the other which supports it for the message that it sends out. Then there are those who would switch their lights off because everyone’s doing the same. In truth, it matters not whether we switch your lights off tonight at the stipulated hour. What’s most important is that we continuously practice environmentally friendly habits – such as not littering, for a start.