Greenhouse gas emissions have increased significantly over the last 200 years due largely to deforestation and burning fossil fuels. As these heat-trapping gasses increase, the earth's temperature is increasing. Over the past one hundred years, the average temperature has risen by 1.4°F. The higher temperatures are triggering changes across the globe, including prolonged drought, increased risk of heat waves, heavy precipitation, and changing wind patterns affecting tropical storm tracks. In preparing its Chicago Climate Action Plan report, the City of Chicago forecast how the local climate will be affected if global greenhouse gas emissions continue on their current trajectories. The results of this analysis show that by the end of this century, Chicago's climate would be similar to that of present-day Mobile, Alabama, with an average of 30+ days of 100-degree heat each summer.
This type of radical change in climate is expected to have serious implications for human and environmental systems, including competition for water resources, declining crop production, and increased species extinction. Although it's uncertain how specific levels of greenhouse gasses determine the type and severity of climate change, scientists agree that greenhouse gasses are significantly changing the world's climate in non-trivial ways.
The University of Chicago contributes research on important environmental issues, including urban climatology, chemical oceanography, and climate change policy. This research supports discussions on climate change causes, impacts, and adaptation processes through rigorous analysis and new approaches.
Climate Planning and our Climate Goal
The Office of Sustainability is currently working with members of the Sustainability Council and groups across the University to develop a climate action plan. The plan will outline actions the University will implement in order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 20% by 2025 and serve as a roadmap for strategy implementation. Stay tuned to hear more as the plan is finalized.