Sunday, April 01, 2007

Sydney Dims Lights to Protest Emissions

Here's what happened. Tomorrow I take off the banner. But we might all want to take note!

SYDNEY, Australia - Australia's largest city plunged itself into near-darkness for an hour on Saturday night when city officials, thousands of businesses and many more residents cut the lights for energy conservation.

The normally gleaming white sails of the Sydney Opera House darkened, as did the arch of the city's iconic harbor bridge, big chunks of the downtown skyline and countless homes in the city of 4 million in a gesture of concern about global warming.

"Tonight is a call to action," said Mayor Clover Moore, whose officials shut down all nonessential lights on city-owned buildings. "We all have to act to reduce out ecological footprint. We are asking people to think about what action they can take to fight global warming."

Restaurants throughout the city held candlelight-only dinners, and families gathered in public places to take part in a countdown to lights out, sending up a cheer when the lights started going out at 7:30 p.m. local time.

There was no master switch, though, and it took a few minutes for the effect to take hold as buildings went dark at slightly different times. Some floors in city skyscraper remained lit, and security and street lights, those at commercial port operations and at a sports stadium, stayed on.

While downtown was significantly darker than normal, the overall effect, as seen in television footage from overhead helicopters, was that the city's patchwork of millions of tiny lights had thinned, not disappeared.