Torrential rains and manhole covers being blown in the air before crashing to the pavement while vehicles float in Chicago streets may cause people to think they’re a surprise extra in an action film or … the end is near.
These scary scenes that happened in Chicago recently may seem pre-apocalyptic, but doomsday isn’t here yet. To stop it, sacrifices must be made, including to our need for comfort and unwillingness to take a hit for the sake of mankind. If people don’t, life will surely change as climate change’s voice becomes louder than our wants.
Environmental activists are applauding Congress for its legislative move to address unsettling and deadly weather events across the globe.
Recently, President Joe Biden marked the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 as the most significant investment in climate change in our lifetime. The measure is set to address emissions pollution by giving tax credits to consumers when purchasing electric vehicles and to bring about a changeover from gas-fueled heaters and ovens to electric-powered appliances. But we can do more right now as we wait for the legislation’s measures to work.
One activist, Jack Darin of the Illinois Chapter of the Sierra Club, who has worked for about 33 years to bring awareness to legislators, recently shared that he supports the new act and marked it as “our only chance at the federal level” to turn things around.
Here are five things you can do right now:
The use of fossil fuels is said to be a driving force behind the rise in global temperatures. Confronting our dependence on fossil fuels will most likely be uncomfortable, but the trade-off is a healthier planet. According to NASA, the current global temperature change since 2021 is 1.53 degrees warmer. The year 2020 tied with 2016 for being the hottest year since records started being tracked in 1980, and according to NOAA, the nine years from 2013 through 2021 rank among the 10 warmest on record.
The first thing on our list is addressing our modes of transportation. One idea is to elect to use mass transit to lessen the number of automobiles on roadways. Besides using mass transit, places like Chicago also have Divvy bicycle rentals.
A recent article in the Tribune pointed out the number of Divvy bicycles available to the public has dwindled in recent months. However, electric bicycles and scooters are also available and are alternatives. Besides Divvy, Bobby’s Bike Hike offers electric bike rentals and is located at 540 N. DuSable Lake Shore Drive in the center of Chicago’s 20-mile bike trail.
“Young people are giving us solutions to global warming by showing us how to have a better quality of life through exercise as a means to get around,” Darin said.
Buying food locally helps to cut down on emissions from trucks used to ship produce. Farmers markets are a great place to buy fruits, vegetables and some dairy products locally. The executive director of Green City Market, Mandy Moody, says, “Just get yourself here once and you’ll be hooked.”
Green City Market has been working since 1999 with sustainable farmers and food producers to provide fresh produce to Chicago. Farmers and producers from Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana and Michigan sell items at Green City in Lincoln Park and the West Loop, Moody said.
The items on offer have a shorter travel, coming from within a 120-mile radius of the city.
“All the farmers undergo a vigorous screening into their growing practices,” Moody said. “They are feeding us and protecting the planet.”
The screening includes how they care for the soil, making sure generations to come are able to continue farming, and also how they care for the animals, according to Moody.
The farmers are present at the market to educate the public on what is in season, and there are chef demos. The farmers also educate shoppers about buying items in season, and how to properly store those items to maintain freshness and nutrients.
The market has a triple Link program where if a shopper spends $25 in benefits they get $75 in total. In 2021, about 250,000 people attended Green City markets, Moody said.
Farmers markets run from April to November citywide.
Studies have shown that during heat waves the highest temperatures are often found in urbanized areas. This effect is caused by paved and asphalt-filled spaces that mean less greenery.
Urban heat islands exist at many levels and aren’t just in the atmosphere above, according to a report from the U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration. They can also exist at ground and street level.
Near-surface heat islands can potentially affect human comfort, air quality, and energy use by buildings and vehicles. Atmospheric heat islands can affect communities by increasing summertime peak energy demand, altering electrical grid reliability, and increasing air conditioning costs, air pollution and GHG emissions as well as heat-related illness and death, and water quality issues, the report notes.
Cordia Pugh, 69, moved from Chicago Heights (now known as Ford Heights), to Englewood on Sept. 1, 1959. Her family relocated from a rural community with “chickens in the front yard and outhouses in the back” to 67th Street and Emerald Avenue. They were the fifthBlack family who were the groundbreakers that moved into Englewood before white flight occurred shortly after, Pugh said.
“Good things happen in this neighborhood,” Pugh said. “You can’t write us off.”
Pugh is the founder of the Hermitage Street Community Garden and the Veterans Garden, directly across from each other on Chicago’s South Side. The gardens provide veterans, seniors and families in need with fresh produce, and also serve as a haven that nurtures community ties.
In Englewood’s gardens and others across the city, low-income families with at-risk youth can have access to garden space for recreation and education. Older residents join the younger ones in cultivating plants together. Not only do participants learn gardening skills — they supply fresh vegetables to veterans, seniors and families in need. They also learn to master sustainable, clean living while fighting against the turmoil of heat wave incidents.
Besides promoting health, the Englewood gardens are an example for other neighborhoods on how to combat violence. Pugh remembers seeing a shooting in about 2014, but hasn’t witnessed one since, she said.
“A 7th District commander recently told me how the gardens have slowed down shootings in the area,” said Pugh, who retired from the MacArthur Foundation. “Due to our effort, things are 100% better. I hope other neighborhoods follow our example. We have gorgeous gardens, and the gardens de-escalate the violence.”
All materials used in the gardens are donated through sponsors.
Different programs promote planting trees to fight global warming. The Canopy Project is one that looks to replenish trees, which absorb carbon in the atmosphere.
During Earth Day across the globe, people were being persuaded to plant trees to reforest the earth, especially in communities that are at risk from climate change.
One Tree Planted, a nonprofit organization focused on global reforestation, reports about 80,000 acres of trees are destroyed daily through logging or burning. Trees are important to the environment because they help filter our breathing air, our drinking water and provide a habitat to more than 80% of life forms on land, according to One Tree Planted.
The Chicago Botanic Garden has suggestions for those who lost trees to the emerald ash borer on trees that have a greater chance of thriving through climate swings. A list of options can be found on its website under Trees for 2050.
Lastly, conserve the energy in use.
Darin of the Sierra Club said practicing energy efficiency “is the easiest and least costly way to fight global warming.” As credit incentives roll in from the Inflation Reduction Act, more Americans will be able to switch out appliances for ones that are more energy efficient, he said.
But in the meantime, “While this subject is boring, more people should practice how to use less energy to get the same job done,” said Darin.
Simply put, turn down or turn off that air unit if you are cool enough, or turn off the lights if it’s still daytime, and learn to manage without them.