What We Can Expect for the Region

Our region must make changes to prepare for the reality of climate change. The warning signs are obviously present, and the predictions and costs of inaction are dire. While the increase in extreme hurricanes and catastrophic wildfires across the country paint a dramatic image of climate change, we in the Midwest are also predicted to experience some significant shifts to our climate and way of life.

It’s important to keep in mind that the potential for these impacts is viewed on a spectrum: inaction leads to the most severe and damaging consequences, but we can take action to reduce the threats and mitigate their effects.

  • We typically hear that temperatures will be hotter resulting from global warming, but keep in mind climate isn’t that simple. It’s not so much that every 80-degree summer day will now be an 85-degree day, but rather that we will experience extremely hot days more frequently, making the average temperatures higher. Furthermore, temperature variability is also seen to be a trend, with large potential swings in temperature in fall, spring and winter. 
  • The region is also predicted to receive much more precipitation than normal, and again, the reality is complex. Warmer air temperatures can hold more moisture in the air and contain more energy, leading to more extreme weather events. We can expect that the increased precipitation will fall during more extreme weather events such as torrential rains or in blizzards, but those extreme precipitation events might be separated by longer periods without precipitation.
  • Warmer temperatures also mean we can expect a higher potential for reduced air quality, since high temperatures lead to increased smog pollution. Unfortunately, one aspect that hasn’t received a substantial amount of research is the potential for increased humidity. An increase in humidity would affect heat indexes in the summertime and could contribute to a proliferation of disease.

These predictions are not insignificant: searing heat indexes and more intense storms will disrupt transportation and power supplies; drought could lead to crop failures and water shortages; and regular temperature fluctuations impact the ability of wildlife to survive in this region.

We’ve broken down some of the major issues and news stories about the impacts of climate change on our region below. For more information, please contact climate@openlands.org.

Unpacking the Fourth National Climate Assessment

The Fourth National Climate Assessment, which was authored in 2018 by scientists from 13 Federal agencies and climatologists from across the country, documents in explicit terms the changes to our climate that have already occurred in the United States.

It’s raining a lot more — and that’s a problem

The increased frequency of weather systems that cause continuous, torrential rain and storm events that drop huge amounts rain in a very short period of time are both symptomatic of climate change in the Chicago region.

Gov. Pritzker Commits Illinois to the US Climate Alliance

In January 2019, Governor Pritzker signed an executive order committing Illinois to the US Climate Alliance. The US Climate Alliance is a coalition of states working to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions in order to meet the goals set by the 2015 Paris Agreement.