A number of leading environmental organizations worldwide are hoping that a one-hour “lights-out” blackout on Saturday, March 28, will trigger lots of new efforts to manage climate change.
Is your city among the roughly 1,200 across 80 countries planning to darken the lights at 8:30 p.m. local time on that day?
Perhaps more importantly, will this third annual “Earth Hour” darkening amount to just a one-hour respite from the ongoing and continued increased concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere? Or will it lead to the “teachable moment” and momentum builder that its proponents are hoping for? Will Earth Hour in time mirror the successes – and perhaps avoid some of the disappointments and shortcomings – long associated with its older sibling, Earth Day?
For journalists looking for a local angle and a timely news peg to localize the story, Earth Hour organizers point to 10 U.S. cities seen as key to their effort: Atlanta, Ga., Chicago, Il., Dallas, Tx., Las Vegas, Nv., Los Angeles, Ca., Miami, Fl., Nashville, Tn., New York City, N.Y., San Francisco, Ca., and Washington, D.C. In addition, Denver, Co., Detroit, Mi., Pittsburgh, Pa., and St Louis, Mo., also are candidates for extensive involvement in the lights-out initiative, and other U.S. cities and townships also are jumping in.
With backing ranging from Archbishop Desmond Tutu and actress Cate Blanchett to a number of leading U.S. colleges and universities considered to be “flagship campuses,” organizers see Earth Hour ramping up from its 2007 maiden launch in Sydney, Australia, which they say involved some 2.2 million people and thousands of businesses. A year later, in March 2008, they counted more than 50 million people in more than 400 cities, including an estimated 36 million Americans.
This year, proponents – envisioning a rolling blackout recalling the annual rolling New Years Eve celebrations starting in Australia and crossing the globe – are holding their breath for what they hope will be “one of the greatest voluntary actions the world has ever seen.”