Thursday, March 29, 2012

Earth Hour reaches space!

Earth Hour reaches space!
March 29, 2012
Business Mirror

FINALLY, Earth Hour breaches Earth! For the first time, the global 60-minute switch-off will extend to the International Space Station, where Earth Hour Astronaut-Ambassador Andre Kuipers shall stand vigil over our imperiled planet as the lights switch off on March 31, sharing photos and live commentary.

Kuipers says he is thrilled to participate in Earth Hour to literally take the globally significant movement to new heights. “There’s no better way to raise awareness for the future of the most beautiful planet in the whole universe!”

Back on Earth, preparations are frenetic. From Angola to Zimbabwe, organizing teams from the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) and its growing roster of allies are preparing for what is hoped to be the largest environmental celebration in human history.

Earth Hour founder and Executive Director Andy Ridley says everyone from citizens to businesses, schoolchildren to world leaders, need to believe they can make a difference.

“The state of our planet affects each and every one of us,” says Ridley. “Last year Earth Hour reached 1.8 billion people across the planet. This year through digital media we are offering a greater opportunity to connect people with the desire to take much-needed action for the environment.”

Ridley—the founder of Earth Hour—is slated to celebrate Earth Hour 2012 in the Philippines, which has been rewarded for topping Earth Hour’s global town and city participation levels for three- straight years by being declared a ‘‘Hero Country.”

Philippine preparations set, switch-off sites declared

WWF-led switch-off ceremonies are slated for the cities of Makati, Cebu and Davao—though other cities and towns are expected to hold well-organized events to observe the switch-off.

Makati City’s Ayala Triangle Gardens shall be the central hub for Luzon. At 6:30 p.m. on 31 March, glow-in-the-dark dance troupe Bailes de Luces and the Caracol dancers shall form the vanguard of an Earth-themed parade, which starts at the Makati fire station and ends at Ayala Tower One—where WWF-Philippines National Ambassador Rovilson Fernandez shall host a program with performances from El Gamma Penumbra, Brigada and other groups. No less than Earth Hour founder Andy Ridley shall lead the country’s main switch-off event, hosted by WWF with the help of Ayala Land and the Makati City government.

Cebu City’s Plaza Independencia shall be the chief switch-off site for the Visayas. A festive street parade, led by local Sinulog Dancers shall start from Fuente OsmeƱa Circle from 5:30 p.m. onward. The Cebu switch-off further features a candle lighting ceremony capped off by the release of biodegradable sky lanterns. Cebu’s event is in cooperation with the Aboitiz Group and the Cebu City government.

SM Davao shall be the main switch-off site for Mindanao. WWF-Philippines National Ambassador Marc Nelson shall host the switch-off, which features a tribal-themed parade around SM Davao at 6:30 p.m. Black-light and fire-dancers shall woo the crowd with specialized routines once the city plunges into darkness. The Davao event is in collaboration with SM Supermalls, the Green Alliance and the Davao City government.

Earth Hour Philippines National Director Atty. Gia Ibay shares, “We’re extremely excited for this year’s switch-off ceremonies. Though the Visayas and Mindanao have always observed their own unique switch-off ceremonies, WWF has traditionally celebrated Earth Hour from Manila.

To commemorate our country’s fifth Earth Hour, we thought it high time for WWF to observe the movement across the archipelago—which has always been what we’ve aimed for.”

‘I Will If You Will’ pledges snowballing

Earth Hour 2012’s new “I Will If You Will” handle empowers people to share a personal dare with the world by asking everyone what are you willing to do to save the planet?

The concept of “I Will If You Will” centers around providing a social contract between two parties —connecting one person, business or organization to a “promise” and their friends, family, customers or members to a “challenge”—uniting them behind the common goal of creating a positive environmental outcome.

The campaign has taken hold and “I Will If You Will” pledges are now

snowballing across cyberspace.WWF-Philippines National Ambassador Marc Nelson has pledged to swim with sharks—in a Panda costume—and plant trees underwater while munching on a ledge to avoid plastic and reuse shopping bags. WWF-Philippines National Ambassador Rovilson Fernandez, for his part, has pledged to run races clad in a Panda costume until April if 5,000 of WWF-Philippines’s 23,000 fans opt to use stairs over elevators for a full month.

Cynthia Dayco, a mother and WWF-Philippines Facebook fan, has promised to let her son Josh play Minecraft an hour longer over the summer break if Josh remembers to turn off the lights and fan whenever he leaves his room.

Lyjenunt Gonowon, another WWF-Philippines fan, has pledged to recycle if his friends promise to switch to energy-efficient CFL bulbs.

An enormous LED billboard along Edsa currently showcases pledges posted on the WWF-Philippines fanpage.

Famous faces around the world are speaking out to encourage participation and support for Earth Hour. Environmental activist and former US Vice President Al Gore urged people to join the switch-off from a video message recorded from Antarctica. Pledges are coming in from a plethora of groups—ranging from top band Coldplay to global supermodel Miranda Kerr. As an open-sourced campaign, Earth Hour uses social media to connect a global community of people inspired to change the world we live in.

Local governments, schools, corporations ready to go

Now in its fifth year, Earth Hour Philippines continues to grow. Current public-sector partners include the Climate Change Commission, Department of Energy, Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Philippine Information Agency, Department of Public Works and Highways, Department of Science and Technology, Department of Agriculture, Department of Foreign Affairs, Department of National Defense, Department of Transportation and Communications, National Economic and Development Authority, Department of Budget and Management, Department of Trade and Industry, Department of Education, the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority, League of Municipalities, League of Cities and League of Provinces of the Philippines.

Philippine media champions include TV5, ABS-CBN, GMA 7, CLTV-36, Discovery Channel, Knowledge Channel, ZOE TV, Global News Network, Philippine Star, BusinessWorld, the BusinessMirror, Philippine Daily Inquirer Online, Aftercall Magazine, Philippines Graphic, Radyo Veritas, dzIQ, dzAR, Globaltronics, QCreativs, Photoworld Manila, ASK and Illuminati Philippines.

Corporate partners include the Yuchengco Group of Companies, Arthaland, McDonald's, Globe Telecommunications, Smart Communications, Primer Group of Companies, Core, York, Victory Liner, Aboitiz Group of Companies, Philippine Business for Social Progress, Ayala Land, SM Supermalls, Canon Marketing Philippines, Smart Communications, the Makati Shangri-La Hotel plus Hyatt Hotel and Casino Manila. The list of allies grows longer each day.

“More than anything, Earth Hour is a celebration of hope. When our planet plunges into darkness, we can look to the stars and dream of what can be. When the lights switch back on though—our real work begins,” concludes Ibay.

Earth Hour 2012 is set for 8:30 p.m. on Saturday, March 31, whether you’re on planet Earth—or orbiting it.