Earth Hour is upon us. The campaign, began as a local event in Sydney, Australia, in 2007, when 2 million people switched off their lights to show support for environmentally sustainable action. It has since grown into a global event, with participants in 128 countries and territories on every continent taking part last year, including private citizens, businesses and many of the most recognized man-made and natural landmarks in the world.
This year, Earth Hour will begin at 8:30 p.m. local time on Saturday, March 26. All you have to do to be part of it is turn off your lights for one hour. It's been amazing to watch entire cities go dark in prior years, with the Eiffel Tower, Buckingham Palace, the Empire State Building, Mount Rushmore, the entire Las Vegas strip and even the great pyramids of Gaza going dark.
On board for 2011 are:
• The world’s tallest building – Burj Khalifa, Dubai
• The Empire State Building, New York
• Times Square, New York
• Christ the Redeemer statue, Brazil
• National Monument, Indonesia
• London Eye
• Eiffel Tower, Paris
• India Gate, Delhi
• The Alhambra, Spain
• National Mausoleum, Pakistan
• Boudhanath Stupa, Nepal
• Table Mountain, South Africa
• Brandenburg Gate, Berlin
• The Obelisk, Argentina
• Milad Tower, Tehran
• Duomo, Milan
• Sheik Zayed Grand Mosque, the largest mosque in the United Arab Emirates
• Davis Station, in Antarctica
• Jet d’Eau, Geneva, Switzerland
• Opera House, Sydney
• Presidential Palace, Lima - world heritage site
• Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe
• Parliament Palace in Bucharest, Romania
• Queen’s Palace, Madagascar
• Government House, Hong Kong
• Royal Castle, Sweden
• Denmark’s Kronborg Castle
• Santa Maria del Mar Basilica, Spain
• Royal Palace, Thailand
• China World Trade Centre Tower 3 (the tallest building in Beijing).
• Presidential Palace, Indonesia
• Niagara Falls, Canada
• Hanoi Opera House, Vietnam
• Rembrandt Square, Amsterdam
• The Merlion, Singapore
This year, some big companies are pledging to go "beyond the hour," pledging to reduce their overal environmental impact throughout the year. Starwood Hotels & Resorts, which includes the Westin, Sheraton and Le Meridien hotel chains, has pledged to reduce energy and water consumption across all of its owned, managed and franchised properties by 2020. Leading Chinese internet company Baidu said it will cut its office resource consumption, including paper, water and electricity, by 30 percent from 2010 levels. And Credit Suisse AG became carbon neutral in 2010 through its global "Credit Suisse Cares for Climate" initiative. This year, as well as sponsoring Earth Hour in Singapore, Credit Suisse will continue to go "beyond the hour" by sending staffers to a Brazilian forest reserve to support field research into the effects of climate change.
What will you do during Earth Hour? My family's tradition is to play charades, just like we do during blackouts. Regardless of where you stand on climate change, 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 in the comments field below.
Learn more at earthhour.org.