At 8:30 p.m. Saturday, March 27, homes, businesses and cities around the globe will go dark for one hour for the third annual Earth Hour.

The event, which is sponsored by the World Wildlife Fund, so far has garnered commitment from a record 19 states, and the WWF announced Monday that a record 19 states and 48 cities in the United States, as well as 800 cities in 80 countries from Athens and Bangkok to Seoul, Sydney and Tel Aviv.

Last year, more than 80 million people in the United States and nearly a billion worldwide participated, and lights were dimmed on such landmarks as the Eiffel Tower in Paris, Sydney's Opera House and the Great Pyramids of Gaza.

The point is simply to raise awareness.

"Earth Hour sends a message that it's time for America to switch to a cleaner, safer and more secure future," said WWF president and chief executive Carter Roberts. "We expect tens of millions Americans all across the nation will take part because they care about our country, our planet and our future."

Such U.S. landmarks as Mount Rushmore in South Dakota, St. Louis' Gateway Arch, SeaWorld in Orlando, the strip in Las Vegas, New York's Empire State Building, the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, Washington, D.C.'s National Cathedral, California's Santa Monica Pier and the Space Needle in Seattle are among the hundreds of sites that will turn off nonessential lighting for the hour, in what is expected to be the largest-ever call to action on climate change.

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Though you might not have heard of Earth Hour, pledged participation has tripled since last year, so the movement certainly is gaining attention. Let's not forget that Earth Day was a radical idea when it was founded by Sen. Gaylord Nelson in 1962. Now, there are school lesson plans focused around it.

Regardless of where you stand on climate change, which still is a bit controversial, you can't argue that saving energy for an hour is a bad thing or that playing charades with your kids in the dark won't be fun.

Who's in? Tell us about your Long Island Earth Hour plans. (Click Add a Comment below)

-Verizon has told us they'll be participating at more than 450 locations around the world -- including their Patchogue and Great River facilities on LI.

PHOTOS: Earth Hour around the world

Buckingham Palace in London during Earth Hour 2009 (World Wildlife Fund Photo)