New report reveals climate change is causing more extreme heat in Illinois – NBC Chicago

Climate change is having a huge impact on Illinois residents, making things like air conditioning an absolute necessity in the Land of Lincoln.

Groups have even been formed to ensure residents have access to air-conditioned spaces through green sources, tackling two issues at once.

“I felt lightning strike three times, this must be a gift from God,” Doris said Martin.

The longtime Chicago Heights resident can’t help but smile as she describes her home’s electrification upgrade.

“I save about 50-75% of what I paid for gas,” said Martin, who received all new electrical appliances, solar panels on her roof and a new electrical box last year.

The project was made possible by Elevate, a nonprofit organization based in Chicago that works to ensure everyone has clean and affordable heating, cooling, power and water in their homes and communities.

“This family’s utility bills are well under $100 every month. That makes their home more affordable and it also makes them healthier,” says Anne Evens, CEO of Elevate. “They are less stressed, but their physical health has also improved.”

Extreme heat is an increasing cause for concern as the planet becomes hotter due to human-induced climate change.

A new report, compiled by scientists from World Weather Attribution, the Red Cross Crescent Climate Center and Climate Central, shows that almost the entire world population experienced an average of 26 extreme heat days that would not have happened without climate change.

“We will continue to pile these days on top of us, year after year, as long as carbon pollution is released into the atmosphere,” said Andrew Pershing, the vice president of science at Climate Central. “It’s really about turning off the tap, moving away from coal, oil and natural gas, and encouraging renewable energy sources around the world.”

Illinois averaged about an additional week of extreme heat compared to previous years.

“Part of the reason this number is low compared to Hawaii or Florida, where it was 50 days,” Pershing said, “is due to the fact that the Midwest is an area where summer warming trends are not as strong have been. just like in other parts of the country.”

Pershing said the impacts may not bring eye-popping temperatures, but they are indeed warmer than normal and could have major consequences.

“Chicago has definitely been affected,” he said. “We have Phoenix in mind. We’re thinking about 110 degrees Fahrenheit. That’s really hot, but ‘really hot’ is a local experience. Dangerous, in a place like Chicago it’s going to get dangerous around high temperatures of 85 degrees.”

Globally, the year 2023 was the warmest year ever recorded. According to the report, July 2023 was the hottest month on record, and July 6, 2023 was the hottest day on record.

It goes on to say: “One of the most consistent findings is that every heat wave happening today has been created
more likely, more intense, and longer lasting because people are burning fossil fuels.”

Unlike sudden weather disasters, heat waves kill slowly and sometimes silently and can worsen pre-existing medical conditions. Those who are socially isolated, live near industrial sites, and in historically disadvantaged communities are most at risk.

To mitigate the effects, Pershing says cities can plant trees and make buildings more reflective, to send energy back into space instead of absorbing it.

“On the human side, helping connect people to resources, cooling centers, better forecasting and things like that that can help keep people safe,” he said.

Evens of Elevate hopes the report will highlight the urgency of tackling extreme heat and create more opportunities for collaboration.

“We really need to change our approach and not wait until an emergency occurs to respond to it,” she said. “The technology is there, the programs are there, we know what works.”

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