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The Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi goes dark for Earth Hour.
Courtesy of the WWF

Why Monuments in 188 Countries Went Dark for a Full Hour This Weekend

For the 11th year in a row, landmarks and monuments across the globe turned off their lights on Saturday for “Earth Hour,” making a bold statement about the urgent need to protect the environment.

This year, the annual event organized by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) saw record participation, with nearly 18,000 landmarks and monuments in 188 countries and territories switching off their lights, according to the WWF.

The first “Earth Hour” was held in 2007 and was a symbolic lights-out event that took place in Sydney, Australia. But the initiative spread worldwide in the years that followed.

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“Once again, the people have spoken through Earth Hour,” Marco Lambertini, director general of WWF International, said in a statement. “The record participation in this year’s Earth Hour, from skylines to timelines, is a powerful reminder that people want to connect to Earth. People are demanding commitment now on halting climate change and the loss of nature. The stakes are high and we need urgent action to protect the health of the planet for a safe future for us and all life on Earth."

While Earth Hour is meant to inspire people to take action to address a variety of issues plaguing the environment, this year the WWF chose to highlight the loss of wildlife and biodiversity around the world.

According to a report from the WWF, the planet is set to lose two-thirds of its wildlife populations by 2020. Just last week, the last male northern white rhinoceros died in Kenya.

"The science is clear: the loss of nature is a global crisis,” said Lamberti. “Together as a global community we can turn things around. People must mobilize and join governments and companies toward stronger action on biodiversity and nature — the time to act is now,"

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