A satellite image of Hurricane Sandy.
Hurricane Sandy A satellite image of the storm approaching the coast. © NASA

Stories in Illinois

There’s No Place for Politics in Creating Climate Resiliency

Everyone is threatened by climate change—and a unified front is the only way to tackle this very real peril.

Headshot of Michelle Carr.
Michelle Carr State Director, Illinois


We are a nation deeply divided. And within that rift, an outdated rhetoric continues to suggest that protecting our drinking water, food supply, natural areas and the air we breathe is a political position that falls along party lines.

This could not be further from the truth. Extreme weather including polar vortexes, hurricanes, wildfires, drought, disease and rising waters don’t care how you vote. Everyone is threatened by climate change—and a unified front is the only way to tackle this very real peril.

How Climate Change Affects Us Now

The Nature Conservancy in Illinois will soon release its new Climate Assessment report, which includes some startling, and sobering, facts.

We approached historic records of cold this winter on the heels of the warmest summer ever in Chicago. Last month, the temperature at the North Pole spiked 90 degrees, shoving arctic air off the axis—and we felt the impact. But these dramatic weather moments are punctuated by the reality that winter temperatures in Illinois over the past few decades have soared by 2.5 degrees above average; only three previous Novembers were warmer than the last. Weather extremes are becoming commonplace, and the trend is steadily increasing temperatures. 

A red-winged black bird perches on grass with the Chicago skyline across lake Michigan in the background
Montrose Dunes Montrose Dunes sits along Chicago's lakefront. © Cristina Rutter

Agricultural lands make up more than 70 percent of Illinois and are a huge part of our economic prosperity. But farmers’ futures are threatened, too: by saturated fields, difficulty moving crops to market due to Illinois River flooding, periods of drought and more.

Taking Action on Climate Change

It's time for a united front in addressing climate change.

After all, we share a common vision—protecting our land, air and water, while also keeping our Illinois economy healthy and strong.

It’s time to block the false narratives that suggest people must choose between jobs or environment—we can have both a flourishing economy and sustainable development. Investment in natural infrastructure and clean energy will create jobs across the state, and mitigate climate change, too.

Thoughtful, sound work is already being done by our communities, cities, state, businesses, nonprofits and concerned citizens, reducing emissions and planning effective solutions. 

It's time for a united front in addressing climate change.

In just one of many examples, the Illinois Clean Jobs Coalition (ICJC), of which we are a member, has pulled together more than 200 leaders, organizations and businesses to pass the Clean Energy Jobs Act, which would commit Illinois to 100% renewable energy by 2050, create jobs, and build a strong, equitable economy and healthier communities.

Regardless of how you voted, a new administration is now in place. We were energized by the swift actions being taken to address climate change. For the first time ever, there is a Cabinet-level position of climate envoy on the National Security Council, and we are optimistic about plans to host an international climate summit this spring.

This convergence is a watershed moment for the environment: greater analysis and awareness of the effects of climate change; new national leadership that elevates climate sciences as a priority; and inspired collaboration between the best scientific minds and those of us living in Illinois who are affected by these changes.

These issues are the core of The Nature Conservancy’s mission. And we’re determined to help bridge the separate interests and initiate solution-based climate change projects.

Our leaders, our businesses and industries, our farmers, and our conservationist community must look up, reach out, and make the courageous stand to work together on climate issues.

The time is now. As the U.S. recommits to the climate change fight, so must Illinois. 

Headshot of Michelle Carr.

Michelle Carr is the state director for The Nature Conservancy in Illinois.

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