Are you ready for the Earth Hour ?

earth hour 2012An hour of darkness is due to set in, quite literally, when Delhi along with 5,500 cities across the globe turn off lights as part of a global effort to save power Saturday.

As the clock strikes 8.30 p.m., houses, public buildings, business centres and even the Rashtrapati Bhavan will turn off lights, turning the spotlight on climate change.

An initiative by World Wildlife Fund (WWF), the 60-minute mass campaign will witness participation by switching off all electrical appliances and lighting fixtures. Running in its fifth year, the Earth hour is now what experts call the largest mass movement for awareness on reducing carbon footprints.

“A total of 5,251 cities were a part of Earth hour 2011, 1.8 billion were reached out in the last campaign,” a WWF official said. The hour-long campaign is organised annually on the last Saturday of March.

With a couple of hours remaining to go for the Hour, last minute SMSes, mails and messages on social networking sites are doing the rounds as distcoms and environment action groups urge people to contribute to the voluntary initiative.

“I wish such events happened more than once a year. I am trying to reach out to all my friends and colleagues,” banker Abhishek Bhandari posted on Facebook.

While many would be joining the campaign from their homes, people have also formed groups to gather at India Gate for candle vigils for the cause.

“My friends will be going to India Gate, but I have not yet decided to be a part of any such group. Fuel energy spent in reaching the spot will be much more than energy saved… so better do it at home,” Harry Vashishtha, working with an IT firm in national capital region, told IANS.

According to a statement, the Rashtrapati Bhavan – the presidential palace – too will observe Earth Hour by switching off all the lights in the building’s exterior. Other popular landmarks such as the Qutub Minar and the Red Fort in Delhi, the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus and the Gateway of India in Mumbai, national defence establishments, universities, hotels, cinema complexes and shopping malls across the nation will also participate in the event.

“During the Earth Hour, we will set up telescopes at India Gate between 7.30 p.m. and 9.30 p.m. for the public to view celestial objects. We as urbanites are able to see only Moon and few other celestial objects even in clear skies; the reason is too much of light pollution in metropolitan cities,” said Mila Mitra, scientific officer at Science Popularization Association of Communicators and Educators (SPACE).

“SPACE will be showing views of the night sky through telescopes to make people aware of how much more you can see when ambient lights are lower,” Mitra added.

Delhiites saved around 300 MW power in the last Earth hour, distcom BSES said.

Earth Hour started in 2007 in Sydney, Australia when 2.2 million individuals and over 2,000 businesses turned their lights off for one hour to take a stand against climate change. India joined the campaign in 2009 and currently, mainly the urban centres in the country are participating.