Climate change advocates will be presenting a report in Normal that they say presents a stark choice: make major efforts to reduce greenhouse gases or watch temperatures rise to dangerous levels.
The program called "It's Getting Hot in Here" will be held at First United Methodist Church in Normal Thursday at 6 p.m.
Meghan Hassett, Midwest campaign coordinator with the Union of Concerned Scientists, said current trends project McLean County would see an increase in 100-degree heat index days from six to 67 by the end of the century without taking action.
“I think allowing folks to understand some of those near-term impacts that are right there in their county will help underscore the urgency and help people to engage,” Hassett said.
The study depicts temperature projections for each county in the contiguous United States through an interactive map that uses high-resolution climate modeling.
Illinois State University geology professor Catherine O'Reilly said the study projects an increase in heat-related deaths, leaving children, the elderly and those who work outside vulnerable.
“Already heat is one of the major contributors to natural causes of death associated with weather,” O’Reilly said.
She added rising temperatures and more weather extremes will cause more problems for farmers who are trying grow their crops amid increasing climate uncertainty.
“I think it’s going to be very challenging for our agricultural sector to start thinking about how to adapt to climate change,” O’Reilly said. “The kinds of change we are seeing this year with the extreme wet spring, that’s exactly what was projected and we are expecting to get more of.”
The group is lobbying Illinois to pass the Clean Energy Jobs Act. It would put Illinois on a path to 100 percent renewable energy by 2050.
Hassett said advocates hope Illinois lawmakers will take up the measure during the fall veto session. She said the measure has enough support in the Senate but not yet in the House.
“We definitely need leadership to step up and make sure that Illinois is out in front in the Midwest on this and not falling behind compared to other states’ investments in renewables,” There’s a lot to gain here, there’s a lot at risk and we definitely hope (House) Speaker (Mike) Madigan, Senate President (John) Cullerton and Governor (J.B.) Pritzker work together to give this bill a chance on the floor.
The Illinois Chamber of Commerce has come out in opposition of the measure. President Todd Maisch disputed claims that it would lower energy costs.
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