Minneapolis and St. Paul go dark for Earth Hour

City buildings in Minneapolis and St. Paul will go dark for Earth Hour as part of a global event on climate change.

Minneapolis will “turn off all uses of electricity in municipal buildings that is not required for life, safety or operations,” on Saturday from 8:30 to 9:30 p.m., according to a news release. St. Paul plans to do the same.

St. Paul and Minneapolis join more than 7,000 cities who have decided to “go dark” for 60 minutes.

Here’s what a few other countries have planned for Earth Hour, according to the group’s website.

“Azerbaijan Earth Hour is turning off Flame Towers, the tallest buildings in Baku, and also 8 other major landmarks.”

After you pause to consider the fact that there are actual buildings called “Flame Towers,” let’s move on to Kenya, where a Nairobi hotel is holding a relay up eight flights of stairs:

“As the participants climb the stairs, a mobile phone charger installed in the sole of a shoe will be activated, with power generated with movement. The charger was invented and patented by a young Kenyan engineer, Mr. Anthony Mutua … After the staircase lights are switched off, the relay participants will conquer the climb using hand-held solar lamps provided by Givewatts, an Earth Hour supporter.”

In France’s City of Light, the Eiffel Tower gets special treatment:

“There will be a light-mob experience in front of the Eiffel Tower with participants taking part in a “light parade” through the streets of Paris to discover the city’s monuments switched off.”

Turning off the lights at night is a big deal for developed countries, which are big electricity consumers. The United States is #2, right behind China. That’s not true elsewhere in the world, notably North Korea, which is already dark at night, as this NASA Earth Observatory image shows:


In case you’re wondering, the lights you see in the white box are fishing boats in the Yellow Sea. Yes, the Yellow Sea is more illuminated at night than a country of 24 million people.

North Korea’s not the only country that goes dark, as the “Earth at Night” map below shows. It was created by NASA Earth Observatory/NOAA NGDC using satellite data from April and October 2012.

Earth at Night.jpg

So, if we turn out our lights for 60 minutes, we’ll have a brief glimpse of what most people experience every night, for better or worse.