London's Mass Twilight Turn-off

By Craigie_B Last edited 132 months ago
London's Mass Twilight Turn-off

Capital 95.8 have launched its Lights Out London campaign. Blatantly plagiarising Sydney's 'Earth Hour', the radio station is busily garnering support from celebrities like Kim Wilde for the campaign, which encourages the whole of London to turn off all lights and non-essential appliances between 9 and 10pm on 21 June – the longest day of the year – as a way of promoting awareness of green issues. Al Gore apparently called for a similar Britain-wide plan last week, but this was stopped for fear of disruptions endangering hospital patients on life support machines.

So London's twilight turn-off won't itself save that much energy, although Sydney proudly reported a 10.2% dip in energy use. We don't, for instance, see it knocking back the earth's imminent destruction by a second or two. Putting aside the worry that the campaign might also make people feel a bit less guilty for next week's 'Let's Go Shop In New York For The Day' flight, we think that this campaign is, in itself, a 'good thing'.

Everyone needs to think about how they contribute to climate change, and this may be a good start for those of us who haven't got round to it quite yet. Just as long as we don't have to sit in the dark and listen to Johnny Vaughn for an hour. Oh god, please no. Fortunately, the radio counts as a non-essential appliance so our OFF switch will be firmly pressed and the plug hastily removed from the wall to make absolutely sure. Will Capital 95.8 stop broadcasting for those 60 minutes? With Buckingham Palace, Canary Wharf, the BT Tower and City Hall all in darkness, this could start to feel like a modern version of the blitz, but only with the population fearing Johnny Vaughn rather than bombs.

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Image taken from fotocitizen's Flickr stream

Last Updated 11 June 2007

diamond geezer

It's an excellent idea, in theory. But what idiot scheduled this event for the day of the year with the latest possible sunset, at a time when it's not actually dark?

I won't be switching off my lights between 9pm and 10pm on June 21st because I won't yet have switched them on.

July 21st, August 21st or even December 21st would have been far better choices of date. But no, this is just another ill-thought through PR campaign that sounds great in the press release but will never work on the day.


to be fair, sunset is at 21:21 on the 21st June. so I doubt you'd normally leave your lights off until 22:00, surely?

in which case, this seems actually quite an effective time/date to choose - you'll switch lights off wihtout plunging into darkness, but then you'll become aware of the world becoming darker around you.

seems fair enough to me. just a shame it's Capital 95.8 really ;-)


actually, thinking about this, at 22:00 there may still be a tiny shred of twilight left from a 21:21 sunset as it's only officially pitch black by 22:09, I think.

I wonder if there'd be enough light to be able to read etc? let's see on the 21st...

diamond geezer

Sunset tonight is at 21:15, which is as near as dammit to the sunset time on Thursday week. So we can do an experiment and check...

It's not dark at 21:00...

It's not dark at 21:15...

Even at 21:25 it's bright enough outside not to need the lights on indoors yet. Well, not unless you're doing a particularly intricate bit of needlework or something.

And it still won't even be approaching pitch black by 22:00 either.

No matter what spin the organisers try to put on this, they've picked the wrong hour, on the wrong day.

Seriously, what is the point in plunging London landmarks such as City Hall and Canary Wharf "into darkness" when it's not actually dark?


let's continue the experiment - it's 21.42 and if I turn my lights out at home now I certainly can't read. the sky is a very murky dark grey.

the office block across the road has put their lights on fully, and the streetlights are on full blast too. that's because it's dark!

whatever you think of the PR aspects of this, it's going to be dark way before the 60 minutes is up. all this means is that the effect will start gradually and not be a big plunge. so what? it's probably safer to do it gradually than all at once.

diamond geezer

So we might get 20 minutes of nearly-dark next Thursday. Great.

A daylight start to the hour-long event means that the official "Lights Out" moment will be a complete anti-climax. Which is a pity, because lights out from 10pm to 11pm could have been damned impressive.

I see that the official Lights Out London website, in their infinite wisdom, are recommending that we use the "hour of darkness" to "look upwards – the more lights go out the better view we'll all get of the stars."

Yeah right.

They're also recommending that we "watch the lights go out" from St Paul's Cathedral, Tower Bridge or the Monument - all of which will unfortunately have closed to the public several hours beforehand.

They've clearly not got a clue.


It's a PR stunt to raise awareness, not a scientific experiment.

I doubt we'll get any minutes of darkness - streetlights will still be on, buses and trains will be lit up, and I can't see, for example, hotels turning the power off for that hour. And as the campaign is run by one radio station, the likes of LBC are hardly likely to report it, and there aren't any TV stations to hand.

So there won't be a plunge into darkness at all. Just a PR stunt to raise awareness. Back where we began, no?


Canary Wharf aren't taking part btw.