World Landmarks Go Dark to Support Earth Hour

Lights went off in thousands of cities and towns across the world on Saturday for the annual Earth Hour campaign, aimed at raising money via the Internet for local environmental projects.

Iconic monuments from Athens’s Acropolis, the Kremlin in Moscow and London’s House of Parliament, to Sydney’s Opera House and India Gate in New Delhi, went dark for 60 minutes from 8:30 pm local time.

The world’s tallest building, Dubai’s 200-storey Burj Khalifa, joined the action expected to include some 7,000 cities and towns in 150 countries from New Zealand to New York, where the Empire State Building will switch off, by the time the event covers all the planet’s time zones.

People wearing Spiderman costumes pedal to generate electricity to light LED lights during an Earth Hour event in Tokyo on March 29, 2014.

At the Vatican, before St. Peter’s Basilica plunged into darkness, dozens of people shouted out a countdown, including a group of children dressed as Spider-Man, the first ever superhero ambassador for the campaign.

The Singapore-based initiative of conservation group WWF was boosted by Hollywood star power, with “The Amazing Spider-Man 2” stars Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone and Jamie Foxx leading ceremonies at the city-state’s Marina Bay district.

The lights shine on Table Mountain in South Africa just before being turned off to mark Earth Hour, on March 29, 2014, in Cape Town.

In Cape Town, South Africa, WWF’s 2014 Earth Hour capital floodlights powered by energy from a nearby windfarm were trained on Table Mountain in order to be switched off for the observance.

Earth Hour, which was launched in Sydney in 2007, partnered with payments giant PayPal to allow donors to contribute to specific projects from Russia and India to Canada and Indonesia, using Asian fundraising site Crowdonomic.

Earth Hour chief executive Andy Ridley said before the lights went off in Singapore that the event had moved beyond symbolism to concrete action.

But it has drawn criticism, including from Danish political scientist Bjorn Lomborg who argues it does little for the real problem of global warming and diverts resources from other problems.

“While more than a billion people across the globe make a symbol of forgoing non-essential electrical power for one hour a year, another 1.3 billion people across the developing world will continue to live without electricity as they do every other night of the year.”

Projects under the “Earth Hour Blue” crowd funding scheme, which aim to raise more than $650,000 in total — include a turtle center in Italy and funding for forest rangers in Indonesia.

Other projects include a $24,000 effort in the Philippines to bring fiberglass boat technology to coastal communities affected by Super Typhoon Haiyan in November last year.

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