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27 Mar, 2010 18:28

Put off the light and save the planet

Russians joined millions of people across the world who chose to raise awareness about environmental issues by turning their lights off for 60 minutes during the annual Earth Hour.

It is the fourth year the WWF has sponsored the campaign. The lights in many cities and towns around the globe, including at the world’s most recognizable landmarks, went out at 8.30 PM local time.

In Moscow, the lights were put out at a number of the capital’s prominent buildings, including the city hall and Moscow State University. In total, about 70 city sites plunged into darkness.

Special screens showing how the campaign is being held in Moscow were installed at 4 observation sites around the city.

It is the second time Russia has participated in the Earth Hour. Last year, about 6 million citizens put out the lights to show their concern for environmental issues.

While the organizers do not think that Earth Hour can solve environmental issues overnight, they hope that this symbolic step will make people start thinking about what they can do to help with environmental concerns.

“This initiative aims at making people think whether or not we live too wastefully,” the Vremya Novostey daily cites Aleksandr Kokorin, coordinator of the “Climate and energy” World Wildlife Fund program, as saying.

Opponents of the event say that the sudden voltage drop could lead to an energy system collapse.

But Aleksandr Kokorin says there is no cause for concern.

“The voltage drop is not as abrupt as some people think, and moreover, power engineers are warned. The previous years’ experience shows there is no danger of breakdowns,” he says.

The first Earth hour took place in Australia in March 2007, when 2.2 million Sydney residents participated by turning off all non-essential lights for an hour. Skyscrapers and major landmarks also switched off their power.

The following year, 2008, no less than 50 million people from 35 countries took part. By 2009, there were hundreds of millions from more than 4,000 cities worldwide.