Sunday, 1 April 2007

Actor Cate Blanchett was at the official launch of Earth Hour last night, giving support to the energy-saving initiative spawned by Fairfax Media and the World Wildlife Fund.

The idea was to turn off lights for one hour from 7.30pm to 8.30pm. This morning Fairfax Sunday tabloid The Sun-Herald claimed 2000 businesses and government departments "along with some 65,000 households" participated. The paper dedicated pages 8 to 11 to the story.

Rival Sunday paper The Sunday Telegraph, which is owned by News Corp, gave it half of page 2 and led with a negative headline: 'Symbolic gesture a turn-off'. It claimed 53,000 homes and 1900 businesses participated. Reporter Stephen Corby noted that Fairfax' printing works in Chullora had all its lights on (and there's a picture to prove it). But he nevertheless quoted Blanchette's stirring words.

Tim O'Grady, the retail general manager of EnergyAustralia, one of the major power companies serving the city, said that "initial readings after the event indicate the final figure is actually close to 10 per cent" energy savings in the Sydney CBD.

With headlines like 'Hour of thoughtful darkness inspires' and emotive words from Blanchett, the religious overtones of the discourse employed by The Sun-Herald to describe the event are unmistakable. Blanchette said "It's an hour of active, thoughtful darkness, a celebration of our awakening to climate change action".

Other notables showing by their presence at Mrs Macquarie's Chair on the harbour foreshore that they have converted to the new creed included Clover Moore (lord mayor of Sydney and also MLA for the state electorate of Sydney), federal opposition leader Kevin Rudd, and his environment spokesman Peter Garrett. Rudd and Garrett belong to the Labor party, Moore is an independent.

Federal environment minister Malcolm Turnbull didn't show. A spokesman told The Sun-Herald that "He never had any intention to go. The invitation was declined through an email". Turnbull is in the Liberal Party, who are Australia's conservatives.

Fairfax Media is set to increase the pressure on the government with its announcement today of a new section called 'eco' to appear in the Tuesday edition of The Sydney Morning Herald every week.

O'Grady said that concrete figures on the real energy savings would be available later today. I expect full TV coverage on the evening news.

Concern for the environment became orthodox in Australia last year more than anything due to the severe drought that has punished farmers for several years. A perception that global warming is really happening is also actively reinforced by highly visible evidence in the form of low dam levels in each of the major cities.

1 comment:

Miao said...

I love Cate Blanchett. She has beauty, brains and talent.