Tonight, it’s lights out for Mother Earth.
Several McHenry County residents will join the rest of the world as they celebrate Earth Hour’s message about energy conservation and global climate change. More than 2,800 municipalities in 84 countries plan to mark the second worldwide Earth Hour time zone by time zone beginning at 8:30 p.m.
Alice Howenstine, a member of the Environmental Defenders of McHenry County, voiced her support of the event.
“It would give us a reason for realizing how the vast majority of the world lives,” Howenstine said.
This week, the Goddard School in Cary joined 320 Goddard Schools across the country in celebrating Earth Hour.
The school, which serves children ages 6 weeks to 8 years old, participated in weeklong activities and lesson plans leading up to shutting off most of the building’s lights for an hour Friday morning.
Throughout the week, the children also created recycled vests and Earth banners with their own “carbon footprints,” which they later shared with the Cary Fire Department.
“[The children] were excited,” said Shelly Gray, educational director of the local Goddard School. “We paraded around the fire truck, and then we presented them with the banners the children made throughout the week.”
McDonald’s even will soften the yellow glow from its Golden Arches in 500 Chicagoland and Northwest Indiana locations as part of the plan to dim nonessential lights between 8:30 and 9:30 p.m. to highlight global climate change.
The Marriott, Ritz-Carlton and Fairmont hotel chains and Coca-Cola Co. also plan to participate.
“Earth Hour makes a powerful statement that the world is going to solve this problem,” said Carter Roberts, chief executive of the World Wildlife Fund, which sponsors Earth Hour. “Everyone is realizing the enormous effect that climate change will have on them.”
Seven times more municipalities have signed on since last year’s Earth Hour, which drew participation from 400 cities after Sydney, Australia, conducted a solo event in 2007.
Earth Hour 2009 has garnered support from global corporations, nonprofit groups, schools, scientists and celebrities, including Oscar-winning actress Cate Blanchett and Archbishop Desmond Tutu.
As New York City darkens its iconic Empire State Building and Broadway marquees, Chicago’s Wrigley Field will power down its sign to kick off the city’s activities.
Fifty-thousand light bulbs at Navy Pier and the 24 spotlights that shine on Sears Tower’s twin spires also will go dark.
“We’re the most visible building in the city,” said Angela Burnett, a Sears Tower property manager. “Turning off the lights for one hour on a Saturday night shows our commitment to sustainability.”
Electricity demand fell by 5 percent in Chicago and northern Illinois during last year’s Earth Hour, reducing about 840,000 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions, according to ComEd.
“It goes way beyond turning off the lights,” Roberts said. “The message we want people to take away is that it is within our power to solve this problem. People can take positive, constructive actions.”
• Northwest Herald reporter Sarah Sutschek contributed to this article.