Lights go off for Earth Hour

The Eiffel Tower, the Acropolis and the Sydney Opera House were plunged into darkness on Saturday for the annual Earth Hour campaign, leading a global effort to raise awareness about climate change.

In a twist to this year's Earth Hour, Dutch astronaut Andre Kuipers will observe from the International Space Station countries around the world turn off the lights for 60 minutes from 8:30 pm local time and post photos.

From Sydney's sparkling harbour to Egypt's Tahrir Square and New York's Empire State Building, thousands of cities opted to go dark in some 150 countries and territories.

"From the Sydney Opera House it was fantastic," said Marni Ryan, from organiser WWF Australia. "We had the skyline of Sydney all out."

The Pacific island nation of Samoa was the first to make the symbolic gesture, with New Zealand's city landscapes later dramatically darkened as lights on buildings such as Auckland's Sky Tower were cut.

In Australia, where the event was conceived, harbourside buildings went dark, along with most big office buildings as some Sydneysiders picnicked on the harbour foreshore by moonlight.

Japan's Tokyo Tower interrupted its sunset-to-midnight lighting to take part, as organisers said the Earth Hour was an opportunity to pray for last year's earthquake and tsunami disaster.

But the just completed 634-metre Tokyo Sky Tree, the world's tallest communications tower, loomed with blinking lights as it prepared to open to the public in May.

"We will ask the tower's operator to turn off the lights next year," WWF spokeswoman Akiko Ishihara said.

In Hong Kong the city's skyscrapers turned out their lights dimming the usually glittering skyline. Tourists and locals snapped pictures, although many were unaware of what was behind the switch-off.

Since it began in Sydney in 2007, Earth Hour has grown to become what environmental group WWF says is the world's largest demonstration of support for action on carbon pollution.

A total of 5,251 cities took part in 2011, as the movement reached 1.8 billion people in 135 countries, it says. Newcomers to the worldwide initiative include Libya and Iraq.

"Earth Hour 2012 is a celebration of people power -- the world's largest mass environmental event in support of the planet," said chief executive of WWF-Australia Dermot O'Gorman.

"And we're seeing hundreds of millions of people in different countries around the world take actions to go beyond the hour in support of positive actions for climate change and the planet."

In Beijing, Olympic Park's two landmark monuments, the Bird's Nest and Water Cube, were spending an hour in darkness.

And in Singapore, 32 malls -- many located in the glittering Orchard Road shopping belt -- and more than 370 companies including luxury brands such as Louis Vuitton and Armani turned off non-essential lighting.

In Taiwan, the presidential office went dim and in the Philippines, more than 1,780 police stations and training centres turned off all non-essential lights and electrical equipment.

In the Indian capital New Delhi lights at three iconic monuments, India Gate, Qutub Minar and Humayun's Tomb, were switched off, while in Mumbai people gathered on the streets to light candles.

"We have a lot of power cuts in our neighbourhood so we're used to going without power, but my kids want to turn out the lights for Earth Hour -- they've been learning about energy conservation at school," Delhi mother-of-two Sangeeta Dayal said.

As the initiative passed through the time zones, Dubai's Burj Khalifa, the world's tallest tower, went dark in the United Arab Emirates.

In debt-stricken Greece, lights were turned off at the Acropolis and at town halls across the country.

In Paris, darkness fell across a string of monuments and buildings including Notre Dame cathedral, and the Bastille and old Garnier opera houses.

The lights at the Eiffel Tower, however, were only turned off for five minutes for security reasons.

The effort was being observed by the International Space Station, where Kuipers is hoping to share photos and live commentary as he watches from above.

"There is no better way to raise awareness for the future of the most beautiful planet in the universe," he said earlier this month.

  • Can home remedies cure jock itch and athlete’s foot? 54 minutes ago
    Can home remedies cure jock itch and athlete’s foot?

    Contrary to its name, a ringworm infection is not caused by a worm but by a fungus. It can be contagious and is often characterised by a red circular rash with clearer skin in the middle. Offering tips about what … Continue reading →

  • 2015 Acura TLX blends two sedans into one alphabet soup 2 hours 17 minutes ago
    2015 Acura TLX blends two sedans into one alphabet soup

    Nearly three decades have passed since Honda gave us the car we didn’t know we wanted: a fancified Accord called the Legend, which Honda sold under a newly created luxury brand called Acura. Acura, along with the Lexus and Infiniti brands that followed, proceeded to turn the luxury market on its nose. But since then, everyone from Hyundai to Bentley has stepped up its luxury game while Acura got a bit lost in ubiquity with a cadre of similar-looking products, all with confusing alphabet soup names like ILX, TSX, TL and RLX.

  • 2015 Dodge Charger goes under the knife 4 hours ago
    2015 Dodge Charger goes under the knife

    Over the past decade, Chrysler's rear-wheel-drive sedans have managed to survive a bankruptcy and three different corporate overlords. Thanks to the original stoutness of the Mercedes-assisted chassis, and the periodic updates that keep them from seeming like 21st-century versions of the Ford Crown Victoria, the Chrysler 300 and Dodge Charger combo still draw in fans. Today, Dodge revealed yet another redesign for the 2015 Charger — and for an old car, it's quite the change.

  • ‘Huge’ Hindu, Buddhist statues against Islam, ex-judge says
    ‘Huge’ Hindu, Buddhist statues against Islam, ex-judge says

    KUALA LUMPUR, April 16 — The “huge” statues at a Hindu temple in Batu Caves and Buddhist temple in Penang are an affront to Islam as the religion forbids idolatry, a retired Court of Appeals judge...

  • Over 280 missing after South Korean ferry capsizes
    Over 280 missing after South Korean ferry capsizes

    By Narae Kim JINDO South Korea (Reuters) - More than 280 people, many of them students from the same high school, were missing after a ferry capsized off South Korea on Wednesday, in what could be the country's biggest maritime disaster in over 20 years. It was not immediately clear why the Sewol ferry listed heavily on to its side and capsized in apparently calm conditions off South Korea's southwest coast, but some survivors spoke of a loud noise prior to the disaster.

  • StarHub 4G users to be charged from June as promo ends
    StarHub 4G users to be charged from June as promo ends

    Are you on the 4G or LTE mobile data network under StarHub? If so, you’ll have to start paying for the service.