Chicago is among the leading U.S. cities that is taking climate change seriously, with practical planning and action in place to combat the changes. To begin with, the city created a detailed model of changes with a century’s worth of historical observations of temperature and precipitation. The forecast showed that the city can expect “72 days over 90 degrees before the end of the century” and “35 percent more precipitation in winter and spring, but 20 percent less in summer and fall”, putting the city more inline with the climate of southern states by 2070.
In a story in today’s New York Times the city’s plans are detailed, including some of the changes planned to prepare:
- repaving public alleyways with materials that are permeable to water
- replacing the planting of white oak, the state tree of Illinois, with swamp oaks and sweet gum trees from the South
- thermal radar is being used to map the city’s hottest spots, which are then targets for pavement removal and the addition of vegetation to roofs
- air-conditioners are being considered for all 750 public schools, which until now have been heated but rarely cooled
While lawmakers at the national level continue to debate the existence of climate change, it’s at the local level where the impacts are being felt and dealt with. By reducing the city’s vulnerability to risk, Chicago is at the forefront of taking the problems seriously, and reducing the potential damages.