Several Illinois cities and landmarks will be observing Earth Hour today. It's an hour of turning out the lights, from 8:30 to 9:30 p.m., to show support for efforts to stop global warming. It started nine years ago in Australia, says Lou Leonard of the World Wildlife Fund, which organizes it.

It's easy for people to engage during that one moment, and really feel like they're part of something that's truly global, and that's what we found people like. They like to feel like they're participating in something, they're joining with their fellow humans all around the planet, and it's really caught on, he said.

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The hour of turning out the lights is symbolic, Leonard says, but it engages people and sometimes spurs further action, such as people signing up for renewable electricity in their homes.

Landmarks participating are the Gateway Arch in St. Louis and the John Hancock Building in Chicago, the city of Edwardsville and Edwardsville High School, the cities of Evanston, Homer Glen, Schiller Park and St. Charles, and individual homes and businesses, Leonard says.

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