From Singapore to Buenos Aires, cities around the world turned off their lights on Saturday to mark Earth Hour, with this year’s event highlighting the link between the destruction of nature and the growing outbreak of diseases such as Covid-19.
After launching in Asia, the call for action on climate change made its way around a planet plagued by the coronavirus pandemic.
When the day ended, it was America’s turn, where the lights were dimmed at the obelisk in Buenos Aires, the Rio de Janeiro tomorrow’s museum and the BBVA tower in Mexico City.
In London, the House of Parliament, the Ferris wheel in London, the Shard skyscraper and the neon signs on Piccadilly Circus were among the landmarks that flew the switches.
“It’s fantastic news that Parliament is once again participating in Earth Hour and joining landmarks across the country and the world to raise awareness of climate change,” said Lindsay Hoyle, Speaker of the House of Commons.
In Paris, the three stages of the Eiffel Tower gradually became dark, but there were few people to watch with the whole country during a curfew Covid-19.
The giant metal tower has been closed to the public since October 30 due to the pandemic.
In Rome, the lights went out at the 2000-year-old Colosseum, while the police enforcing Italy’s coronavirus restrictions checked papers from a small spectator.
Harmful human activity
The Asia-Pacific region started the event after nightfall, with major cities from metropolises from Singapore to Hong Kong as dark, as well as landmarks including the Sydney Opera House.
As the event crossed time zones and continents, the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin and the Moscow Kremlin also joined the annual initiative.
This year, the organizers said they wanted to highlight the link between the destruction of the natural world and the growing incidence of diseases – such as Covid-19 – that make the leap from animals to humans.
Experts believe that human activity, such as widespread deforestation, destruction of animal habitats and climate change, stimulates this increase and warns more pandemics could occur if nothing is done.
“Whether it’s a reduction in pollinators, fewer fish in the oceans and rivers, disappearing forests or the greater loss of biodiversity, evidence is mounting that nature is in free fall,” said Marco Lambertini, director general of WWF, which organizes Earth Hour.
“And it depends on how we live our lives and run our economies.
“Protecting nature is our moral responsibility, but losing it also increases our vulnerability to pandemics, accelerates climate change and threatens our food security,” he said.
In Singapore, people by the water saw how skyscrapers went dark and in a nearby park, Gardens by the Bay, a group of futuristic tree sculptures were knocked off.
We are called to acknowledge that other living beings have a value of their own in the eyes of God: through their existence they bless him and give him glory, and indeed the Lord rejoices in all his works (Ps 104: 31). #EarthHour #LaudatoSi ‘
– Pope Francis (@Pontifex) March 27, 2021
” Impact on the environment ”
Earth Hour is about “more than just saving energy, it’s more like remembering our impact on the environment,” Ian Tan, 18, told AFP in the park.
But he was not convinced that the event, which has been going on since 2007, made a big difference.
“An hour is not enough for us to remember that climate change is actually a problem – I do not really see (Earth Hour) as very significant,” he said.
In Hong Kong, people at vantage points above the city saw lights dimmed on hordes of tightly packed skyscrapers, while the historic Namdaemun Gate in the South Korean capital Seoul went dark.
In Thailand, Bangkok’s ultra-popular CentralWorld mall was counted down to 8:30 pm before its exterior glass displays darkened for an hour – but inside, the mall seemed to function as usual.