Whether you're looking up at the Space Needle in Seattle or ogling the Empire State Building in New York, you might notice something strange this weekend. At 8:30pm local time on Saturday many prominent landmarks from coast to coast will suddenly go dark. What's going on?
Don't fear a power outage or other electrical mishap. What you're witnessing is the tenth annual Earth Hour, organized by the World Wildlife Fund to raise awareness of climate change.
The idea behind the event is simple -- by asking prominent buildings, schools, businesses, and even individual households to turn off all but essential lights, the event creates a rolling, worldwide visual representation of concern for climate change and the destruction it's already beginning to cause.
Why you might want to participate
And despite the objections of our new science-phobic EPA chief and other fact-challenged deniers, climate change is real (97 percent of scientists agree -- 97!) and it's already doing plenty of damage. Killer droughts in Africa and elsewhere, a rise in massive wildfires in the American West, the destruction of the world's coral reefs, and more frequent large hurricanes are already at least in part driven by rising temperatures, according to overwhelming scientific evidence.
Spikes in food prices and extinctions (one-in-six species on the planet are already threatened, though climate change is only one factor driving this mass die off) are likely in the near future. Expect more political unrest and suffering as a result.
How to participate
Want to do something about it? One super simple place to start is by participating in this weekend's Earth Hour. You'll have plenty of company. Last year millions of people in 178 countries on all seven continents (and even the International Space Station) participated.
All you need to do is turn off all but the bare minimum of lights at your business or home. You can visit the event's webpage to declare your participation or simply flip off some switches at 8:30pm local time on Saturday.
Will this action alone halt the rise of atmospheric CO2? Of course not, but no single effort by any one person or group can accomplish that. In order to hand our kids a thriving earth and a bright future, we'll all have to take action. Individual efforts might feel small and fruitless, but they can add up to something much larger. That's what Earth Hour aims to demonstrate.