Thousands of South African homes and institutions (and thousands more across the world) turned off their lights on Saturday night between 20h30 and 21h30 in support of Earth Hour 2010. This global World Wildlife Fund for Nature (WWF) initiative to raise awareness about climate change began in Australia in 2007 with 2 million people turning off their lights. 50 million people participated in the event in 2008.
Earth Hour has truly become a global event. This year more than 4000 cities and towns across 125 countries (including 14 African countries) participated in Earth Hour. Landmarks all around the globe were engulfed in darkness, including the Union Buildings in Pretoria, Table Mountain in Cape Town and the Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban in South Africa.
Global landmarks that participated in Earth Hour 2010 include the Great Pyramids and Sphinx in Giza, the Bird’s Nest Stadium in Beijing, the Eiffel Tower and Arc de Triomphe in Paris, the Burj Khalifa (the world’s tallest building) in Dubai, Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio de Janeiro, the Sydney Harbour Bridge and Opera House in Australia, New York City’s Empire State Building, Buckingham Palace, Big Ben, St Paul’s Cathedral and the London Eye in London, the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, Edinburgh Castle in Scotland, the Grand Palace in Bangkok, the Brandenburg gate in Berlin and many others. In all 13,870 icons and landmarks worldwide turned off their lights for Earth Hour this year.
56 national capitals and 8 of the world’s 10 most populated metropolitan areas were included in the list of those committed to raising awareness about climate change. The 14 African countries that joined in the Earth Hour initiative this year is a big improvement on the 5 countries that took part in Earth Hour 2009.
Today South African power utility, Eskom reported that South Africans contributed 420 MW electricity savings to Earth Hour. According to an Eskom spokesperson this translates to about 4 million 100w bulbs or 6.7 million 60w bulbs that were switched off on Saturday. Those who participated in Earth Hour in South Africa can say that they contributed to saving 400 tons of carbon dioxide, 224 tons of coal and about 576 kilolitres of water due to power stations not needing to generate electricity for Earth Hour.