Five things you can do to combat climate change

Torrential rains and manholes raised in the air before crashing to the sidewalk as vehicles float through the streets of Chicago can make people think they’re a surprise in an action movie or … the end is near.

These spooky scenes that recently happened in Chicago may seem pre-apocalyptic, but the day of judgment hasn’t come yet. To stop it, sacrifices must be made, including our need for comfort and reluctance to take a hit for the good of humanity. If people don’t, life is sure to change as the voice of climate change grows louder than our desires.

Environmental activists are applauding Congress for its legislative move to address disturbing and deadly weather events around the world.

Recently, President Joe Biden marked the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 as the most significant investment in our life in climate change. The measure is designed to tackle emission pollution by granting tax credits to consumers when purchasing electric vehicles and to allow the switch from gas stoves and ovens to electric appliances. But we can do more right now as we wait for the measures of the legislation to work.

One activist, Jack Darin of the Sierra Club’s Illinois Chapter, who has worked for nearly 33 years to raise awareness among lawmakers, recently shared support for the new law and marked it as “our only federal chance” to transform things around.

Here are five things you can do right now:

The use of fossil fuels is said to be a driving force behind rising global temperatures. Addressing our fossil fuel addiction 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 to be the hottest year since records began to be tracked in 1980, and according to NOAA, the nine years from 2013 to 2021 are among the 10 warmest on record.

The first thing on our list is to address our modes of transportation. One idea is to choose to use mass transit to reduce the number of cars on the roads. In addition to using mass transit, places like Chicago also have Divvy bike rentals.

A recent Tribune article highlighted that the number of Divvy bicycles available to the public has declined in recent months. However, electric bicycles and scooters are also available and are alternatives. In addition to 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 path.

“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 of getting around,” said Darin.

Buying food locally helps reduce emissions from the trucks used to ship products. Farmers’ markets are a great place to buy locally grown fruit, vegetables, and some dairy products. Green City Market Executive Director Mandy Moody says, “Come here once and you’ll be hooked.”

Green City Market has been working with sustainable farmers and food producers since 1999 to provide fresh produce in Chicago. Farmers and producers in Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana and Michigan sell items in Green City to Lincoln Park and the West Loop, Moody said.

The items on offer have a shorter journey, coming from a 120-mile radius of the city.

“All farmers are rigorously screened in their growing practices,” Moody said. “They are feeding us and protecting the planet.”

Screening includes how they care for the soil, making sure future generations are able to continue farming, and also how they care for the animals, according to Moody.

Farmers are present at the market to educate the public about what’s in season and there are chef demonstrations. Farmers also educate shoppers on purchasing seasonal items 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 on benefits they get $ 75 in total. In 2021, about 250,000 people attended the Green City markets, Moody said.

Farmers’ markets are held from April to November throughout the city.

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 which mean less green.

Urban heat islands exist on many levels and are not just in the atmosphere above, according to a report from the United States Department of Transportation, the Federal Highway Administration. They can also exist at ground and street level.

Heat islands close to the surface can potentially affect human comfort, air quality and energy consumption by buildings and vehicles. Atmospheric heat islands can affect communities by increasing peak energy demand during the summer, altering the reliability of the electricity grid, and increasing the costs of air conditioning, air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions, as well as heat-related illnesses and deaths and water quality problems, the report notes.

Cordia Pugh, 69, moved from Chicago Heights (now known as Ford Heights), to Englewood on September 1, 1959. Her family moved from a rural community with “front yard chickens and back outhouses” to 67th Street and Viale Smeraldo. They were the fifth black family to have pioneered Englewood before the flight of the whites occurred shortly thereafter, Pugh said.

“Good things happen in this neighborhood,” Pugh said. “You can’t cancel us.”

Pugh is the founder of the Hermitage Street Community Garden and the Veterans Garden, facing each other on Chicago’s South Side. The gardens provide fresh produce to veterans, seniors and families in need, and also serve as a refuge that nurtures bonds with the community.

In Englewood Gardens and other locations around the city, low-income families with at-risk youth can have access to the garden space for recreation and education. Older residents join younger ones in growing plants together. Participants not only learn gardening skills, but provide fresh vegetables to veterans, seniors, and families in need. They also learn to master a sustainable, clean life as they battle the turmoil of heatwaves.

In addition to promoting health, Englewood Gardens are an example for other neighborhoods on how to combat violence. Pugh remembers seeing a shooting around 2014, but he hasn’t seen it since, he said.

“A 7th district commander recently told me how the gardens slowed the shooting in the area,” said Pugh, who retired from the MacArthur Foundation. “Thanks to our commitment, things have improved 100%. I hope other neighborhoods follow our example. We have beautiful gardens and the gardens reduce violence. “

All materials used in the gardens are donated through sponsors.

Several programs promote tree planting to combat global warming. The Canopy project aims to replenish trees, which absorb carbon in the atmosphere.

During Earth Day around the world, people were persuaded to plant trees to reforest the land, especially in communities at risk from climate change.

One Tree Planted, a non-profit organization focused on global reforestation, reports that around 80,000 acres of trees are destroyed every day due to logging or fire. Trees are important to the environment because they help filter our breathing air, our drinking water, and provide habitat for more than 80 percent of life on earth, according to One Tree Planted.

The Chicago Botanic Garden has suggestions for those who have lost trees to the emerald ash borer on trees that are more likely to thrive through the changes in weather. A list of options can be found on his website under Trees for 2050.

Finally, save the energy in use.

Darin of the Sierra Club said practicing energy efficiency “is the simplest and cheapest way to fight global warming.” As credit incentives come from the Inflation Reduction Act, more Americans will be able to replace appliances with those that are more energy efficient, he said.

But in the meantime, “While this topic is boring, more people should practice how to use less energy to do the same job,” said Darin.

Simply put, turn down or turn off that air unit if you’re cold enough, or turn off the lights if it’s still daylight and learn to cope without them.

dawilliams@chicagotribune.com

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