Supporting Earth Hour on Saturday, March 27, 8:30 p.m. local time, immediately places you in an eclectic coalition with at least one Nobel Peace prize recipient, Canadian McDonald’s, architectural icons, natural wonders and celebrities. The invitation is free and open to anyone on the planet.

Nobel Peace Prize recipient Archbishop Desmond Tutu has lent his voice to Earth Hour along with actor Ed Norton, supermodel Gisele Bundchen and NFL quarterback Tom Brady. McDonald’s in Canada are turning out their lights along with at least 812 landmarks around the world. The global ambassador for the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) annual event is a panda who once enjoyed bamboo shoots at the Atlanta Zoo. It’s easy for individuals and businesses to pledge at myearthhour.org.

At the moment, which may be fleeting, Georgia is neck and neck with Florida for #3 and #4 spots among U.S. states with businesses and organizations pledging to support Earth Hour (Dawgs and Jackets get busy). Organizers will be thrilled if the event attracts one percent of the population, changing the state’s color designation on the national metrics map. That feat would require almost 100,000 commitments from Georgia residents. Meanwhile back in her home town of Chengdu, China, Mei Lan will be sharing her Earth Hour experience with some 13 million local backers and residents. That’s just one town.

Earth Hour began in Sydney, Australia in 2007 when over 2 million people switched off non-essential lights in a statement about climate change. The simple idea gained momentum and in 2008, Earth Hour Atlanta joined more than 50 million people worldwide. The annual global event held on the fourth Saturday of March is sponsored by World Wildlife Fund, one of the world’s largest and most respected independent conservation organizations with a network active in more than 100 countries. This year more than one billion people around the world are expected to participate in Earth Hour from no less than 120 countries.

All the notices mention local time, because the bulbs go dim in a wave by time zone. In Georgia Earth Hour Atlanta operates on volunteer energy with a steering committee of community and business leaders. The local committee hopes to use the event as a catalyst for long lasting impact. By bringing awareness not only to climate change, organizers hopes to demonstrate that energy conservation affects air quality, economic development and water supply, all critical issues for Atlanta.

Mayor Kasim Reed serves as Honorary Chair of Earth Hour Atlanta and the Governor’s Energy Challenge is a partner. More than 600 metro buildings are scheduled to go dark up from 400 last year, plus schools, churches, universities, governments and nonprofits across Georgia. Local updates on buildings going dark, dining and dancing in the dark, plus an Earth Hour Family Fun Festival at Atlantic Station in the daylight are posted at www.SoutheastGreen.com.

Lighting is a visible energy user, and good way to encourage people to be mindful of wasting energy. This event prods us to make Earth Hour and Earth Day (40th Earth Day approaching April 22) every day.

With a few clicks, your home or business will join iconic landmarks of the world preparing to switch off for Earth Hour – China’s Forbidden City, Italy’s Trevi Fountain and London’s Houses of Parliament and India’s Gate and Red Fort, Australia’s Sydney Opera House and the world’s tallest building, Burj Khalifa.

Atlanta and Georgia boast of being international. Earth Hour presents a platform to lead. Bless our hearts, let’s make Mei Lan proud of her home.

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Nancy Rogers

Nancy Rogers

Nancy Rogers, a graduate of UGA and GIT, is volunteer communications chair for Earth Hour Atlanta 2010 and founder of Green Earth PR Network.