Parts of Australia's biggest city, Sydney, plunged into near
darkness for an hour to raise awareness of global warming. The local
government, environmental groups and businesses united in support of
"Earth Hour" - when the city turned off the lights to save power and cut
emissions that contribute to global warming. From Sydney, Phil Mercer
tells us more.
Sydney was not completely blacked out Saturday evening, but organizers
of "Earth Hour" say they are delighted with the response.
Lights on the city's iconic Harbor Bridge were switched off for the
hour along with most of those on the famous Sydney Opera House. Tens of
thousands of suburban homes joined in. So did hundreds of businesses. Many
tower blocks have spent the evening in almost total darkness.
The event has had high-profile support to raise awareness about how to
combat global warming. Australian actress Cate Blanchett says Earth Hour
shows small changes can make a big difference in climate change.
"It's massive [climate change]. It's very difficult to grasp in all its
magnitude and complexities," she said. "So I think that the potency of
tonight is that it's about a very simple beginning, you know, turning off
Every day millions of lights and computers are left on in deserted
offices, apartments and houses.
Environmental activists say that simply switching them off could cut
Sydney's greenhouse gas emissions by five percent over the next year.
Per capita, Australia is one of the world's largest producers of carbon
dioxide and other gases that many scientists believe are helping to warm
the Earth's atmosphere, causing climate upset.
This Australian, observing Earth Hour in Sydney, says he hopes the
event will spur the national government into greater action.
"We're one of the worst, if not the worst, for carbon emissions and
it's good to see this effort tonight," he said. "So hopefully the
government will see it and make some changes."
Prime Minister John Howard has refused to sign the international Kyoto
Protocol to halt global warming, saying it does not address key issues
between developed and developing nations and hurts Australia's coal-driven
economy. But he argues Australia is meeting its international emissions
obligations in other ways.
A long-standing drought and serious water shortages in Australia have
focused much attention on climate change in this election year. Some
experts warn higher temperatures could leave this nation of 20 million
people at the mercy of more severe droughts and devastating tropical