While Washington Denies Climate Change, Chicago Moves to Adapt
Photo credit: Monika Thorpe via Flickr/CC BY
It's a perverse irony, really. While those holding the highest offices in the nation climb over one another to convince Americans they don't believe in climate change, public officials actually in charge of dealing with the impacts of the warming climate are already knee-deep in efforts to prepare for it. The New York Times has a good story about how the city of Chicago is working to adapt to a climate that's heating up, and fast. Just check out this veritable laundry list of changes the city is making in preparation:
Climate scientists have told city planners that based on current trends, Chicago will feel more like Baton Rouge than a Northern metropolis before the end of this century.Reading stuff like this mere weeks after the House of Representatives passed a bill that would prevent the EPA from limiting greenhouse gas emissions from the nation's largest polluters -- which, of course, are the biggest contributors to climate change -- makes me want to slam my head on my desk.
So, Chicago is getting ready for a wetter, steamier future. Public alleyways are being repaved with materials that are permeable to water. The white oak, the state tree of Illinois, has been banned from city planting lists, and swamp oaks and sweet gum trees from the South have been given new priority. 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. And air-conditioners are being considered for all 750 public schools, which until now have been heated but rarely cooled.
City officials around the nation are preparing for the impacts of warming -- even conservative cities like Newport Beach, CA. Climate scientists continue to outline the urgency of the threat posed by warming. Extreme weather events, exacerbated by climate change, are wracking the globe. And yet the ideology that fuels climate skepticism is as unimpeachable as ever. This is simply no longer a matter of facts. We've entered an absurdly surreal chapter where, despite having more access to better scientific evidence than ever before, it's not only possible for many of our top politicians to look reality in the face and actively deny it -- but it's politically advantageous for them to do so.
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