By Barbara Kessler

Chalk up another one for the power of unified action. The worldwide Earth Hour, during which dozens of cities and iconic buildings around the globe went dark for one hour last Saturday, resulted in a clear drop in energy usage.

According to ComEd in Chicago, the city and its Northern Illinois service area saw a seven percent reduction in electricity use — the equivalent of taking more than 1 million cars off the road for one hour. In Atlanta, Georgia Power reported an energy decrease of nearly four percent during Earth Hour, representing enough saved megawatts to power 1,750 homes, according to the utility. It urges customers in a statement to “practice energy efficiency year-round.”

Chicago, Asf-blackout.jpgtlanta, Phoenix and San Francisco (see black out picture of Sam Francisco from Earth Hour.org) are “flagship” or early signers to the event, launched in Sydney last year as a way to raise awareness about global warming and the need for energy conservation. Earth Hour went global this year, adding many more American cities, including Charlotte, N.C.; Denver, Colo.; Honolulu, Hawaii; Miami, Fla.; Minneapolis, Minn.; Pittsburgh, Pa., and St. Louis, Mo., Arlington, Va.; Columbia, Mo.; Homer Glen, Ill.; La Grange, Texas; and Norman, Okla.

Around the world, large cities in Australia, Southeast Asia and Europe participated, resulting in blackouts at famous spots such as the Sydney Opera House, Wat Arun Buddhist temple in Bangkok, the Coliseum in Rome, the Royal Castle in Stockholm and the Parliament building in Budapest.

In Israel, President Shimon Peres turned the lights of the city out with one symbolic switch.

The WWF was pleased with the response, which demonstrated a willingness by communities everywhere “to unite for a common purpose, against a common threat which affects us all,” said Carter S. Roberts, president and chief executive officer of World Wildlife Fund in the United States.

“As the world witnessed on Saturday night,” he said, “the simple action of turning off lights can inspire people around the world into action, and make a serious long-term commitment to living more sustainable lives.”

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