Israel Goes Off the Grid for Earth Day

14 Israeli municipalities will shut off their lights at 8 p.m. on Thursday to mark the 40th annual Earth Day.

The 40th annual commemoration of Earth Day will be marked today around the world, including in Israel, with marches, performances and the traditional gesture of shutting off the lights for one hour.

In Israel, 14 local authorities have said they will join the campaign by turning off the lights at public facilities at 8 P.M. and by calling upon their residents to do the same. The Israeli municipalities will be joining about 6,000 other cities around the world in this effort. The Israel Defense Forces, the Manufacturers Association and the Israel Electric Corporation are also set to participate.

In Jerusalem, the lighting along the walls of the Old City and the Tower of David will be switched off as well. Singer Shiri Maimon is scheduled to participate in the Earth Day ceremony in the capital, which will also feature a street party. In Haifa, lighting at the Bahai Gardens will be turned off.

The main commemoration in Tel Aviv will take place at Rabin Square and will include performances by Rami Fortis, Shlomi Shaban and Geva Alon. The electricity for the event will be supplied by generators that run on vegetable oil, with the help of 48 cyclists who will use pedal power to generate electricity.

Before the concert in Tel Aviv, the country's Green Globe awards will be conferred on individuals and groups who have worked to protect the environment. This year's recipients include the public committee that has opposed construction in the vicinity of the Palmachim beach, situated south of Tel Aviv; in the business sector, the award is going to Power Science, a firm that promotes energy conservation; in the category of urban sustainability, the prize will go collectively to urban parks around the country.

The Green Globe awards are sponsored by Life and Environment, which serves as an umbrella organization for numerous environmental groups.

The sponsors' critical Black Globe award will be conferred upon the Israeli government, for what they view as the negative effects of efforts to reform planning and building procedures in Israel.

Earth Day got its start on university campuses in the United States in 1970. Forty years later, hundreds of millions of people around the world are expected to participate in Earth Day activities.