Los Angeles City Hall will be among several area landmarks to go dark Saturday night in observance of Earth Hour, an annual international event that is intended to promote energy conservation and support action on climate change. The Santa Monica Pier Ferris wheel, the Gateway pylons at LAX and other structures at USC and UCLA will also switch off their lights for one hour beginning at 8:30 p.m. The event, which began in Australia in 2007, is sponsored by the World Wildlife Fund. "Our ever-growing demand for food, water, and energy is changing the climate faster than predicted -- and it comes at a cost for wildlife, wild places, and people everywhere," the organization said on its website. "This Earth Hour, millions of people around the world will turn off their lights for one hour to show their steadfast commitment to protecting nature."
On 8 February, as South Australians sat down to dinner on a broiling summer evening, the lights went out. Instead of blaming the heat wave and heavy demand for air conditioning for the outage--the second in 6 months--conservative politicians took aim at South Australia's progressive government and its ambitious renewable energy policy. The blackouts, they asserted, are evidence that wind and solar power just aren't dependable. In fact, grid operators concluded that the blackouts had little to do with South Australia's rising dependence on renewables. But a backlash against wind and solar has emerged as a key test of the nation's political will to meet its pledge, under the Paris climate accord, to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 26% to 28% below 2005 levels by 2030.
The energy minister, Josh Frydenberg, has slapped down Tony Abbott and other conservative rebels, declaring that climate change is real and that was why Abbott agreed to join the Paris international climate agreement when he was prime minister. Asked about Abbott's provocative speech to a group of climate-change sceptics in London questioning the science of climate change – an outing that has been characterised by Labor as "loopy" – Frydenberg brought up Abbott's own record in the top job. "Climate change is real," the energy minister told reporters. "We take our advice from the scientific experts. We believe we need to reduce our emissions.
The past few months have brought in a raft of news about the health of the iconic Great Barrier Reef -- each one worse than the last. According to recent surveys, over 90 percent of the 1,400 mile structure has been affected by some level of coral bleaching -- an event that occurs when corals, stressed by rising water temperature and acidity, expel the symbiotic algae living within their tissues. This bleaching event, which is the worst in the reef's history, has killed 35 percent of its corals in the northern and central regions. On Monday, Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, who is under pressure for failing to do enough to protect the fragile ecosystem and is facing a tight re-election battle, announced the creation of a 1 billion Australian dollar ( 740 million) fund to protect the reef. The reef fund, which will finance, through debt and equity, clean energy projects across the reef's catchment area, will be administered by the country's Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) and will be taken from its 10 billion special account.