Earth Hour gears up for global power-down

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Millions worldwide will be turning off all their lights for just one hour on the evening of Saturday, March 27 in an annual experiment called Earth Hour as part of the WWF's practical demonstration of the power of ordinary people to save energy, money, and limited natural resources.

Earth Hour starts at 8:30pm in each time zone, and if all goes to plan then a baton of temporary darkness will be passed around the world, starting in remote islands of the Pacific Ocean, moving over Australia and New Zealand, passing across North and South America, to Europe and Africa, the Middle East, and Asia before moving silently out to the Pacific once again.

Over 5 million signed up to the event in 2009, and for this year the organizers are aiming to crack 1 billion.

Though Earth Hour was first limited to Sydney, Australia when it started in 2007, over 800 global landmarks will be placed under cover of darkness as part of the 2010 event.

Rio's statue of Christ the Redeemer, the Empire State Building in New York, Big Ben and the Eiffel Tower, the Pyramids of Giza and the Sydney Opera House will all have their lighting shut down to mark the occasion.

Even Las Vegas's bright welcome sign will take a nap, and natural attractions such as the Niagara Falls and Victoria Falls will also be returned to their native state.

Among the first places to come under the voluntary blackout's auspices is the island of Tuvalu, halfway between Australia and Hawaii. Come 8:30pm local time, the entire nation will abstain from using grid-powered light bulbs - not least because the government has agreed to totally cut off the low lying nation's power for 60 minutes.

The WWF has been suggesting that people swap TV dinners for candlelit dining with friends and family, or outdoor events that take advantage of low-light conditions, and another Pacific Island will see its main thoroughfare's streetlights exchanged for wax-powered illumination during its own Earth Hour phase.

The WWF will also be following and reporting on events as they happen on, with a dedicated YouTube channel held over from last year's event, Earthhour2009.