On Saturday, Santa Monica goes dark.

City Hall, along with many residents and businesses, will participate in Earth Hour 2009, a global event to raise awareness about our energy use and how it affects climate change.

Residents and businesses are encouraged to turn off all lights and appliances from 8:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. Saturday to show their commitment to working toward energy solutions and be a part of a sustainable Santa monica.

Although the nation is now focused on clean renewable energy sources like wind and solar to help reduce environmental declines, change comes slowly. Electricity production remains the greatest cause of pollution of any other activity on the planet; and even if power eventually comes clean, the nation will have to explore ways to reduce the demands placed on the grid from lighting, city officials said.

City Hall invites all residents and businesses to participate in this event. People can make their voices heard by registering online for the event at EarthHour.org and pledging to power down for one hour. People can also support Earth Hour and invite friends to participate on Sustainable Santa Monica’s Facebook page.

On the Santa Monica Pier, the distinctive neon-lit sign will go black for Earth Hour, and the LED lights on the Pacific Wheel at Pacific Park will be turned off except for essential safety lights along the rim.

The City of Santa Monica’s Community Maintenance Department will be lowering the lights at many city facilities to the lowest possible level that safety and common sense allows. The Civic Auditorium will turn off its exterior lights and the parking lot lights. Where possible, all the lights at parks and ball fields will be off.

Restaurants and businesses throughout the city are turning it off and sharing the event by offering special promotions. The Fairmont Miramar Hotel on Wilshire Boulevard has pledged to go dark for Earth Hour and will be welcoming guests by candlelight. Guests dining in the newly renovated Lobby Lounge restaurant or FIG can enjoy a green absinthe frappe, and the Fairmont is offering in-room dining specials with a choice of three sustainable champagnes.

Businesses and residents are encouraged to participate in Earth Hour by organizing a “lights out” event, offering a special candlelight-only dinner or just spending the hour stargazing.

Earth Hour began in 2007 when 2.2 million businesses and homes in Sydney, Australia switched off the lights for one hour. By 2008 that number grew to 50 million, with national landmarks like the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco and large billboards in Times Square going dark for the event. The organizers of Earth Hour 2009 hope to reach 1 billion homes and businesses on March 28.

For more information, visit www.earthhour.org

Daily Press