Landmarks, hotels & airports turning off lights for Earth Hour

(courtesy: Jorge Sierra / WWF-Spain)

Attention travelers and aliens assigned to monitor our planet from outer space: you may notice major landmarks, tourist attractions, and large areas of many cities and towns around the world going dark for an hour on March 27.

Do not be alarmed. It’s just Earth Hour, a rolling, global black-out designed to draw attention to climate change. First organized in Sydney, Australia back in 2007, during last year’s Earth Hour there were voluntary lights-out events in 87 countries. This year, millions of people, more than 115 countries, thousands of cities and hundreds of major attractions and landmarks worldwide have pledged to switch off the lights for an hour as well.

My msnbc.com column this week, Lights out for climate change, lists just some of the landmarks and attractions participating in the carefully choreographed event that kicks off Saturday night at 8:30 p.m. local time in New Zealand’s Chatham Islands and then follow time zones around the globe, ending with an hour of darkness in the South Pacific island of Samoa almost 25 hours later.  You can see the complete list on the Earth Hour website,  but some of the places that will go dark include the Eiffel Tower, the Empire State Building, the Golden Gate Bridge, UN Headquarters in NY, Seattle’s Space Needle and the Smithsonian Castle in Washington, D.C.

(courtesy WWF / Maverick Photo Agency)

Some people think the whole Earth Hour project is silly.  But no matter where you stand on the issue of global warming or the ability of a single, simple event to make a difference, it will be impressive to see so many usually-lit places go dark, if just for an hour.

Many hotels around the world are participating in Earth Hour by turning off lights in public areas and offering candlelit dinners.  In England, though, when five Starwood hotels turn off their lights, hotel staff will begin pedaling special bicycles that will generate enough power to light up the hotel lobbies.

Several airports are also joining in Earth Hour as well, turning off lights that are not essential for safety or security.  You’ll notice lights out at airports in Toronto, Calgary, Amsterdam, London (Luton), Singapore, and Los Angeles, where the iconic, colorful, 100-foot-tall LAX Gateway pylons that stand at the airport’s entrance will glow a steady, solid green between 7:30 and 8:30 p.m. and then turn off completely between 8:30 and 9:30 p.m.

(courtesy Los Angeles International Airport)