There was a day -- or make that a night, rather -- when the large swaths of the planet dimmed considerably after the sun set each evening.
A night, we should add, that wasn't too long ago.
Fires and gaslamp and candles kept after-hour pursuits flickering, but computer screens, headlights, and fluorescent overheads? Electric illumination was not all the rage, or any rage, five or six generations back, despite what science fiction or whimsical novels might claim.
Earth Hour, which happens on Saturday, March 29, is very much about turning the light switch to off, at least for 60 minutes, in the spirit of conservation and energy usage.
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And while those not-so-long-ago nights, where fireflies and moonlight provided glow, don't fully return with Earth Hour, what does is a reminder to consider our small orb in space, the amount we consume, and everyone else who shares the home planet with us.
The deal? At 8:30 p.m. -- and that's everywhere 8:30 p.m. happens -- people and businesses and cities and landmarks are invited to turn off the lights. The mega, multi-country World Wildlife Fund eco-hearted happening covers a goodly chunk of the globe, some people across the time zones participate. And the lights? They might include big beams, on famous skyscrapers, or wee lights, like your phone.
Yes, we said your phone. You can turn it off for an hour. You can. Sit down. Breathe. Take air deep into your lungs. It's okay.
A number of California locations'll go dim to dark, from the luminescent pylons in front of LAX to the Golden Gate Bridge. The full list of Golden State spots, and everywhere else spots, is here.
What might you do with those 60 minutes? Hang out on the porch with pals, sharing a bottle of wine? Hit the sack early? Break out the telescope and stare up at history's original light bulbs? Consider what your great-great-great-great-grandparents might have done.
And, of course, you'll probably want to switch the computer back on, probably not long after Earth Hour concludes at 9:30 p.m. on the 29th. If you do, be sure to check out photographs of some of the landmarks that participate. It's a rather startling and wonderful way to see the world, if not actually lit up, then lit up for positive environmental change.