This Saturday, March 31, 2012 at 8:30 p.m. local time, millions of people around the world will all turn off their lights, computers and televisions for one hour, the Earth Hour, as a united display of how individual action can protect the planet by reducing energy consumption.
No sign-up is necessary. The “rules” are not complicated. Anyone can participate just by turning off their household lights (and major light emitters, such as TVs and computers) for one hour.
Business and office buildings as well as whole towns and even tourist attractions are encouraged to join in by going dark for one hour. According to the Earth Hour website, more than 5,200 cities and towns in 135 countries worldwide switched off their lights for Earth Hour 2011.
Earth Hour 2012 will see the lights off in Times Square and the Empire State Building in New York City, as well as the Eiffel Tower, the Leaning Tower of Pisa, and the Sydney Opera House.
Earth Hour was co-founded by the World Wildlife Federation in Sydney, Australia in 2007 and has occurred annually since then on the last Saturday of March as a way for global citizens to show their support for action to prevent climate change.
This year’s Earth Hour invites people to go beyond the hour with the I Will if You Will campaign to encourage environmental action every day by encouraging friends, colleagues, and social networks to publicize their commitment to sustainability by posting their eco-actions and results.
The Earth Hour website also features a number of educational games for children on the positive effects of turning off lights when they’re not in use as well as many other environmental actions.
Earth Hour also has a Facebook page and a Twitter feed (@earthhour).
A few ideas on what to do while the lights are out:
1. Use the time to look for fireflies! (See suggested articles, below.)
2. Explore the constellations (Orion is out to play with Canis the dog and Leo the lion) and planets (Jupiter, Venus, and Mercury) of the springtime sky.
3. Talk. Just talk, with family, friends, children and neighbors.
4. Plan little, everyday ways to help the planet, then post them on I Will if You Will.
5. Grab a pair of binoculars or a telescope and have a closer look at the moon, which will be high in the sky and just past half full.
6. Listen for nighttime sounds, such as green frogs, barred owls, coyotes and alligators.
7. Absolutely nothing. Just enjoy an hour off from the light and pace of modern life.
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