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Originally published Sunday, March 22, 2009 at 12:00 AM

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Earth Hour: Power down for 60 minutes on March 28

For Earth Hour, citizens of the world will turn off their power for an hour at 8:30 p.m. on March 28, in a move against global warming.

The Washington Post and Seattle Times Travel staff

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On March 28, if the lights go off in your Cape Town hotel or, close to home, a Seattle hotel restaurant switches to candles, do not be alarmed. It's not an electrical-grid meltdown but a global show of support.

During Earth Hour, citizens of the world are asked to turn off their power for one hour, starting at 8:30 p.m. local time, in a symbolic stance against global warming.

The World Wildlife Fund started the event two years ago in Sydney, with 2.2 million people and thousands of businesses going dark. The next year, more than 400 cities on all seven continents participated. Some high-wattage landmarks even got involved, including the Sydney Opera House and, in New York, the Coke billboard in Times Square and the Empire State Building.

For 2009, so far nearly 1,200 cities — including Chicago, Guatemala City, Vancouver, B.C., Mumbai and Bangkok — in 80 countries have signed on. Group organizers aim for 1 billion people to flick the switch, an achievement they hope to present at the United Nations Climate Change Conference, to be held in Copenhagen this year.

Some cities and travel businesses are turning the statement into a celebration.

In Seattle, the Fairmont Olympic hotel will host a candlelit dinner in its luxury Georgian restaurant. In Melbourne, the Australian city will host a people-pedal-powered concert. In Athens, a conductor will lead a percussion circle as the Acropolis dims its lights.

Want to join in on the road? Kill the hotel-room lights and TV. Switch from plug to battery at the Internet cafe. Details: www.voteearth2009.org.

Copyright © 2009 The Seattle Times Company

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