Call of darkness: Earth Hour casts shadow over globe (VIDEO, PHOTOS)

Hour by hour, the Earth slowly plunged into darkness on Saturday. The dimming of lights is a symbolic gesture calling on the people to seek a better balance between humanity’s desire for consumption and the planet’s ability to sustain it.

­This year’s Earth Hour is the sixth consecutive event to take place. What started as a local affair in Sydney back in 2007 now unites 135 countries around the world. This year, the action has been dedicated to the Arctic.

For one hour starting at 8:30 p.m. local time, public organizations, private companies and individuals have switched off the lights and unplugged power-consuming devices. The world’s most famous tourist attractions have also gone dark as their decorative lightning was switched off. London’s Big Ben, China’s Great Wall, Italy’s Coliseum, America’s Golden Gate Bridge and St. Paul’s Cathedral at the Vatican have been among the many Earth Hour ‘participants.’

One of the first major world monuments to cut its lights was the Auckland Sky tower, New Zealand’s tallest skyscraper. Two hours later, the Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge in Australia followed suit.  

“What began in Sydney as a simple idea to raise awareness of climate change – to switch off the lights for an hour – has become a global success,” Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard said.

In 2012, the event organized by the WWF (World Wide Fund for Nature) and supported by the United Nations has spilled into space. The crew of the International Space Station has also been part of the global green action. European astronaut and WWF ambassador André Kuipers was taking photos and video footage of the Earth from orbit.

Another great scientific and technological facility, the Large Hadron Collider, remained powered for the duration of the day. However, physicists working there were going to turn off the lights in their labs to mark their support for the event, the European Organization for Nuclear Research said.

­And in Russia, some 15 million people observed the Earth Hour this year, its organizers claim.

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A combination picture shows the Sydney Harbour Bridge and city skyline on March 29, 2012 (top) before Earth Hour, and during Earth Hour March 31, 2012. (Reuters / Tim Wimborne)
A combination picture shows the Sydney Harbour Bridge and city skyline on March 29, 2012 (top) before Earth Hour, and during Earth Hour March 31, 2012. (Reuters / Tim Wimborne)
Philippine police hold candles as they join the celebration of Earth Hour in Manila′s Makati financial district March 31, 2012. (Reuters / Cheryl Ravelo)
Philippine police hold candles as they join the celebration of Earth Hour in Manila's Makati financial district March 31, 2012. (Reuters / Cheryl Ravelo)
People walk next to the Oriental Pearl Tower at Shanghai′s financial district during Earth Hour March 31, 2012. (Reuters / Carlos Barria)
People walk next to the Oriental Pearl Tower at Shanghai's financial district during Earth Hour March 31, 2012. (Reuters / Carlos Barria)
Youths hold candles as they participate in Earth Hour after lights were turned off at the Welcome Statue in Jakarta March 31, 2012. (Reuters / Supri Supri)
Youths hold candles as they participate in Earth Hour after lights were turned off at the Welcome Statue in Jakarta March 31, 2012. (Reuters / Supri Supri)
This combo of pictures shows Seoul′s landmark the Seoul Tower before (L) and after (R) its lights were turned off for the 6th annual Earth Hour global warming campaign at Seoul on March 31, 2012. (AFP Photo / Kim Jae-Hwan)
This combo of pictures shows Seoul's landmark the Seoul Tower before (L) and after (R) its lights were turned off for the 6th annual Earth Hour global warming campaign at Seoul on March 31, 2012. (AFP Photo / Kim Jae-Hwan)
Indian girls hold solar powered lamps at a gathering to mark the sixth global Earth Hour in Mumbai on March 31, 2012. (AFP Photo / Punit Paranjpe)
Indian girls hold solar powered lamps at a gathering to mark the sixth global Earth Hour in Mumbai on March 31, 2012. (AFP Photo / Punit Paranjpe)
This combination of pictures shows Malaysia′s iconic Patronas Twin Towers, photographed illuminated (left), before Earth Hour and unlit (right), during Earth Hour in Kuala Lumpur on March 31, 2012. (AFP Photo / Saeed Khan)
This combination of pictures shows Malaysia's iconic Patronas Twin Towers, photographed illuminated (left), before Earth Hour and unlit (right), during Earth Hour in Kuala Lumpur on March 31, 2012. (AFP Photo / Saeed Khan)
Young women hold candles as they stand in the opera house square to mark the sixth global Earth Hour on March 31, 2012 in Hanoi. (AFP Photo / Hoang Dihn Nam)
Young women hold candles as they stand in the opera house square to mark the sixth global Earth Hour on March 31, 2012 in Hanoi. (AFP Photo / Hoang Dihn Nam)