Event aiming to turn spotlight on climate by turning off lights
BY KRISTIN NETTERSTROM
Posted on Saturday, March 28, 2009
Organizations and residents across the state are flipping the switch tonight, turning their lights and other electrical gadgets off for an hour to raise awareness about climate change as part of the 2009 global Earth Hour effort.
Nearly 200 U.S. cities are expected to participate, with the lights going out at hundreds of McDonald's restaurants across the Midwest and at popular tourist attractions, such as Broadway marquees in New York and the spotlights that shine on Chicago's Sears Tower's twin spires. Cities in 84 countries are expected to participate at 8:30 p.m., their local times, The Associated Press reported.
"Obviously turning the lights off for an hour is more about making a statement than it is about having any real effect on saving energy," said Clinton resident Don Richardson, an Arkansas representative of Pew Environment Group and director of Arkansas Climate Awareness Project. He helped coordinate Earth Hour recognition in Arkansas.
Little Rock's downtown will be a little darker than usual, with exterior lights going dark at the Capitol, the Governor's Mansion, Heifer International and various Clinton Presidential Center buildings. Lights at the Clinton presidential library, however, will stay on because of a previously scheduled event.
World Wildlife Fund hopes 1 billion people will turn off their lights tonight as part of a "global vote" ahead of the Dec. 7 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen, Denmark, where world leaders will discuss and determine policies regarding global warming, which many scientists link to human activity.
"This is an important year and we need to raise awareness about this so it's on people's minds that this country really needs to step up and take some leadership on the global warming issue," Richardson said of the United States.
Along with movie stars and businesses, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has promoted Earth Hour participation in a
Earth Hour 2009 video on Youtube posted this month on the event's YouTube channel, according to The Associated Press.
Several Web sites have popped up urging people to keep their lights on as a counterprotest to Earth Hour.
In Little Rock, lights, copy machines and computers will be turned off at the Clinton School of Public Service and at the Clinton Museum Store on President Clinton Avenue in the River Market District.
"This is a great thing to participate in, and we hope we can help do our part to encourage energy conservation," said Clinton Foundation spokesman Jordan Johnson.
Turning out the interior lights at Heifer's headquarters won't be much of a hassle because the building uses motion detectors to turn off lights when no one is in a room, spokesman Dale Ingram said Friday.
"In a way, Heifer is already recognizing Earth Hour around the clock, every hour of every day of every year, and we appreciate more attention being raised to the issue of energy efficiency," Ingram said.
Earth Hour started in Sydney, Australia, in 2007, with an estimated 2.2 million homes and businesses turning out their lights for an hour. Last year, the environmental advocacy effort grew to 50 million and included landmarks such as San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge, the Coca-Cola billboard in New York City's Times Square and the Sydney Opera House in Australia.
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