By Barbara Kessler
Green Right Now

Earth Hour, that annual blackout to demonstrate support for fighting global warming, will be back stronger than ever in 2009. Organizers announced Thursday that 377 cities in 74 countries have pledged to participate in the global event set for March 28 at 8:30 p.m. (your time), surpassing last year’s participation.

Sponsor World Wildlife Fund also announced that Shepard Fairey, whose portrait of Barack Obama has been popularized on t-shirts and other objects, has created a “Vote Earth” T-shirt to promote Earth Hour. The poster’s text, “Vote Earth. Your Light Switch is Your Vote,” asks people to participate by turning out the lights in their homes and businesses.

The image from the limited edition poster will be available through social networking sites such as Facebook, MySpace and Flickr and at for those who want to set up events around Earth Hour.

Among the cities participating this year in the U.S., are: Atlanta, Chicago, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Miami, Nashville and San Francisco. Other cities include: Athens, Beijing, Brussels, Cape Town, Dubai, Helsinki, London, Manila, Moscow, Rio del Janeiro, Rome and Sydney.

WWF’s vice president of climate change, Richard Moss, Ph.D., noted that 2009 is an important year to send a strong signal from the U.S. in support of measures to curb greenhouse gas emissions, with global leaders set to sign a pact on reductions at the UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen in December.

WWF senior communications director Steve Ertel said that several U.S. cities will hold special events on Earth Day. Las Vegas, for instance, has volunteered to shut down the strip (and that’s a lot of watts).

Earth Hour, however, is “not about energy savings per se,’ Ertel said. “It’s really a symbolic event. By turning off your lights for an hour, you’re voting for action on climate change.”

Despite some recent studies suggesting that global warming has drifted downward on the electorate’s list of priorities as economic concerns have superceded other issues, Ertel says he believes people still want to address greenhouse gas emissions. He pointed to other research showing that clean energy development, for instance, will curb GHGs and create jobs.

Earth Hour began in Sydney as a city-wide event in 2007. It went worldwide in 2008, when an estimated 50 million people in 371 cities across 35 countries worldwide turned off their lights during Earth Hour.

To sign up as a participant of Earth Hour, and to learn how to host a local event, visit the action area of their website.

Copyright © 2009 Green Right Now | Distributed by Noofangle Media