ZAMBOANGA City Mayor Celso Lobregat spearheaded Saturday evening in the shutting-off of lights as the City Government joined the observance of Earth Hour.

The shutting-off of lights plunged the entire Zamboanga City into darkness for 60 minutes, with the City Government dramatizing support to the global campaign to reduce the impact of global warming.

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The event was simultaneously done with all other cities and countries worldwide at 8:30 p.m. with a preceding countdown signaled by the sounding of City Hall siren at 8:29 p.m.

Lobregat, though happy over the Zamboangueños' cooperation and support to the global campaign, urged the residents to continue initiating measures to help reduce the impact of global warming.

Global warming is the term used to describe a gradual increase in the average temperature of the Earth's atmosphere and its oceans, a change that is believed to be permanently changing the Earth’s climate.

Earth Hour, a 60-minute blackout initiated by the Worldwide Fund for Nature (WWF) and spearheaded in the country by the Earth Day Network Philippines chaired by former Environment Secretary Elisea Gozun, was aimed to raise awareness on the detrimental effects of global warming.

Aside from shutting off lights and electrical appliances, Lobregat said people can also help preserve and protect Mother Earth by planting trees; recycling tins, bottles, plastic bags and papers; and conserving rice and water, and many others.

“As we observed Earth Hour, we are reminded of the devastation wrought by two storm surge incidents to our environment and our people residing in coastal areas on November 27, 2007,” Lobregat said.

“Those incidents were believed to be caused by climate change spawned by global warming. The unpredictable weather brings in rains in normally dry and warm months,” he added.

He also stressed the initiatives being undertaken by the local government to meet the threats posed by climate change, saying his administration considers environmental protection, an undertaking that will not only benefit the Zamboangueños of today but also their children and grandchildren.

Zamboanga City first joined Earth Hour in 2008, barely a year after the initiative started in Sydney, Australia where an estimated 2.2 million people shut off their lights to raise awareness about global warming.

The Earth Hour support movement in Zamboanga City for the third year was the result of a meeting initiated by Lobregat last week and attended by representatives of all sectors.

Lobregat said the observance of Earth Hour is very significant as the city and the entire Mindanao are experiencing power and water shortage brought about by the dry spell.

The mayor emphasized that the city should take a critical stand in preserving and protecting Mother Earth, as Zamboanga is not spared from incidences of climate change spawned by global warming.

The Earth Hour program was highlighted by the signing of a declaration of commitment to the campaign by representatives of different sectors.

Lobregat said the campaign to reduce the impact of global warming should continue beyond the observance of the Earth Hour. (Bong Garcia)