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Earth Hour 2009: March 28, 8:30-9:30 PM Local Time

March 27, 2009 - 6:00am

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The city of Greenbelt, Maryland, where I live, is living up to its "green" name by participating in Earth Hour. This global event asks everyone to "go dark" for an hour to make a powerful statement of concern about climate change. The city will be turning off all non-essential lights in municipal buildings. Residents are requested to turn off their lights (and other energy-consuming appliances).

The Greenbelt Advisory Committee on Environmental Sustainability, which advises the mayor and city council and which I chair, will be sponsoring a flashlight walk around Old Greenbelt during Earth Hour. My wife and I will be participating, carrying our hand-cranked LED flashlights.

Earth Hour is an international event sponsored by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF). This event, which started out in one city, Sydney, Australia, in 2007, is taking on staggering proportions. Last year the number of participating cities grew to 371. This year, the number has skyrocketed to nearly 3,000 cities, towns and municipalities in 84 countries, and the tally is growing by the minute.

Earth Hour Executive Director, Andy Ridley, said the global growth in support for Earth Hour has been phenomenal.

Many of the world's most famous landmarks will be going dark this weekend: Hong Kong's Symphony of Lights and the Shanghai Hong Kong New World Tower, Egypt's Great Pyramids, the Acropolis in Athens, Paris' Eiffel Tower, Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio de Janeiro, Sydney's Opera House, Table Mountain in Cape Town, CN Tower in Toronto, and Las Vegas' MGM Grand Casino, to name but a few.

Thousands of community organizations around the world are getting behind the campaign. For example, the world's largest youth movement, the Scouts, with more than 28 million members in 160 countries, is helping to mobilize Earth Hour supporters.

The call for action is also coming from the business community. HSBC is supporting Earth Hour by pledging to turn off lights in offices in 33 countries around the globe. Swedish furniture giant IKEA is running Earth Hour awareness campaigns in its stores, not only in its home country but as far away as China. Luxury travel business Abercrombie & Kent will be ensuring Earth Hour is celebrated in some of the most remote parts of Africa, including on wildlife reserves and on the Nile.

VOTE EARTH—YOUR LIGHT SWITCH IS YOUR VOTE

WWF is urging everyone to participate. By flipping off the light switch you can "VOTE EARTH." WWF is striving to reach 1 billion votes, which will be presented to world leaders at the Global Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen 2009.

Will you VOTE EARTH, and turn off the lights, or will you VOTE GLOBAL WARMING, and leave the lights on?

Earth Hour is enlisting an assortment of social marketing tools: Flickr, Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, and YouTube, to spread the word. Visit their Web site for more information and to register your vote.

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