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Earth Hour's lights-off turnoff

March 18, 2009 |  2:00 am


     If you're strolling along the Santa Monica Pier on Saturday night, March 28, don't be surprised if the Ferris wheel lights wink out. If you're driving along a Los Angeles freeway looking for the circular landmark of the Capitol Records Tower, be warned: It will all but disappear for an hour.
     It's all part of a massive effort in which 1,500 cities, towns and villages in 80 countries have reportedly signed up for the third annual "Earth Hour," a one-hour lights-out event at 8:30 p.m. local time. The cause: "a global vote for action on climate change."
     So if you're on your honeymoon in Paris, forget about swooning over a dreamily illuminated Eiffel Tower. If you're celebrating your anniversary in New York, don't plan on snapping your photo in front of the Coca-Cola digital billboard on Times Square. The beam of the Luxor Las Vegas won't be seen from space. Even a few Nashville honky-tonks say they'll dim the neon.
     The World Wildlife Fund, which is normally more focused on science and policy than PR gimmicks, has recruited politicians and corporations to join in what began in 2007 as an experiment in Sydney, Australia, with 2.2 million participants. Last year, the group says, 50 million people turned off lights on seven continents — a number that has not been subject to scientific peer review.
     "Turning off the lights is just the beginning," WWF Chief Executive Carter Roberts says in a news release. "We're asking everyone to also make commitments to reduce their energy use during the rest of the year, and to ask their elected representatives to do the right thing because we need climate legislation now."
  Celebrities who swarm to uncontroversial causes have signed up by the dozen. No one, after all, is being asked to chain themselves to the gate of a carbon-spewing coal-fired power plant. Alanis Morissette clips her toenails in a 30-second Earth Hour video as a promotion for the event's slogan: "The Huge Turn Off."

— Margot Roosevelt

Photo: Santa Monica celebrated with fireworks as it inaugurated its solar-powered Ferris wheel in 2008. Credit: Jay L.Clendenin / Los Angeles Times