It’s lights out across the planet Saturday night for “Earth Hour,” a symbolic call for action on global warming, and many Orange County businesses will flip the switch as well.
The idea is to switch lights off for one hour starting at 8:30 p.m. in each time zone on Saturday.
“We’re going to make it as dark as we can without causing any issues or concerns,” said Dan Pittman, spokesman for the Westin, which turned its lights out last year as well.
Most hotel guests seemed willing to participate, he said, though whether they turn lights out in their rooms will be up to them.
“People seem to buy into it,” he said. “People, given the chance, like to participate in these things. Candle light is kind of romantic anyhow.”
Begun in 2007 in Australia, Earth Hour has grown steadily every year since, said Leslie Aun, manager of Earth Hour for the World Wildlife Fund. People — as well as city governments and businesses — were continuing to sign up the day before the event.
“As of this moment, we have 125 countries,” Aun said late Friday. “But it’s a moving target, and continues to change by the hour. Last year, there were only 88.”
More than 3,500 cities also had signed up by Friday, as well as the governments in 33 of the 50 U.S. states.
“We had 4,000 cities last year,” she said. “The way it’s trending, we’re going to easily beat that.”
The state governments typically take part by switching lights off in a government building, such as the executive mansion. In California, the lights on the State Capitol golden dome will be switched off.
Knowing how many people will take part is a bit trickier. About 50,000 had signed up on the organization’s Web site Friday, but far more typically take part. The group estimates last year’s participation at some 80 million, a number estimated from surveys taken after the event.
In Southern California, the Santa Monica Pier will go dark, along with the pylons at the Los Angeles International Airport (runway lights and control tower lights will stay on; the group urges everyone to stay safe, and turn off only lights that aren’t needed).
Beijing’s Forbidden City will go dark, along with the Taj Mahal, the Egyptian pyramids, the Eiffel Tower and Buckingham Palace. In Dubai, the world’s largest building will switch its lights off as well.
“We don’t have the White House — yet,” Aun said.
In many places, McDonald’s restaurants will turn their lights out.
The idea of turning lights off really has nothing to do with saving power, Aun said — an hour’s worth of energy savings would be negligible.
But it is meant as a kind of global cry for action to reverse the effects of climate change.
“It’s a symbolic event,” she said. “This is the largest mass event in history. It’s very hard for people to have their voices heard; it’s a signal to the world that they care about this issue. It’s very visual, very inspiring.”
Here’s a partial list of Orange County businesses taking part in Earth Hour:
Hilton Orange County, Costa Mesa
R3 Construction Services, Anaheim
Westin South Coast Plaza, Costa Mesa
CB Richard Ellis, Fountain Valley
Power Reduction Technologies, Fullerton
Ecotek, Huntington Beach
Embassy Suites, Irvine
Piedmont Office Realty Trust, Irvine
Fairmont Hotel, Newport Beach
St. Margaret’s Episcopal School, San Juan Capistrano