Lights out for the Space Needle

Mar 26, 2010, 3:24 AM | Updated: Mar 28, 2011, 3:46 pm

Seattle could look a little strange with the Space Needle, Pike Place Market neon marquee and dozens of office buildings turning off their lights for one hour Saturday night.

Why? It’s the World Wildlife Fund’s Earth Hour, to raise awareness of climate change issues.

The Capitol Dome in Olympia will be dark too, along with major landmarks around the world: Sydney Opera House; Eiffel Tower; Empire State Building; the Great Pyramids of Giza. One billion people are are expected to participate around the globe in small ways too, such as turning off porch lights.

Microsoft’s search engine Bing will take part virtually, by dimming the image on its home page.

Major universities in our state are also participating, along with the cities of Kirkland, Snoqualmie, Friday Harbor and Spokane. 99 businesses in the state are a part of it too, including IKEA. Even the Four Season’s restaurant ART will turn the lights out and have guests dine by candlelight for an hour.

Amir Vahdani, ART’s general manager, says they’ll be serving a four-course meal for $45. All Four Seasons properties are participating, and Vahdani says, “It’s even more important to be environmentally responsible because Seattleites are so dedicated to resource conservation and climate control.”

How much electricity will be saved as Earth Hour sweeps around the planet? Nobody knows.

Leslie Aun, with the World Wildlife Fund, says it’s impossible to calculate the energy savings. Some cities that have participated in the past reported a five to seven percent drop in use. But she says that’s not really the point of Earth Hour.

“Quite honestly we could turn off every light in the world for one hour and it wouldn’t really make a huge difference,” Aun says. “This is not about turning off every single light, but about making a statement on climate change.”

Aun says this is the biggest single-action demonstration in history. If you really want to get into it, you can change your Twitter avatar so it darkens when Earth Hour approaches your location. Not sure I’ll do that, but I’ll probably flip the porch light off tomorrow night.

“Hey, how often can you say you’re part of a history-making Saturday night?” Aun adds as a selling point.

One of the more dramatic before and after shots from last year’s event comes from Brisbane, Australia.

brisbane australia before 02

brisbane australia after 02

If you take some great shots from any Washington landmarks or cities shutting off the lights, share them with us: [email protected]

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Lights out for the Space Needle