Chicagoans have long prized the city’s spacious green parks and tree-shaded streets. In warmer months, when cooling breezes blow off the lake, people crowd the city’s ball fields, summer festivals and open-air concerts. Even the bracing change of seasons is a source of civic pride. Yet as many who have already dedicated themselves to climate issues know, our familiar cycle of weather my soon become a dim memory. The earth responds slowly to changes in atmospheric gases. For that reason, over the next few decades, we will continue to face the consequences of our heat-trapping gas emissions from decades past.
Aggressive action will reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the future. We must also take action by adapting to changes that are already happening and preparing for the changes ahead. The previous sections have outlined mitigation strategies – key elements of the plan to reduce the likelihood of adverse conditions. Adaptation, the courses of action detailed here, will help reduce the impact of the changes that can be expected even if we greatly reduce emissions.
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1. Manage Heat
Update the heat response plan, focusing on vulnerable populations, complete further research into urban heat island effect and pursue ways to cool hot spots
2. Pursue Innovative Cooling
Launch an effort to seek out innovative ideas for cooling the city and encourage property owners to make green landscape and energy efficiency improvements.
3. Protect Air Quality
Intensity efforts to reduce ozone-precursors through mitigation programs that reduce driving and emissions from power plants.
4. Manage Stormwater
Collaborate with the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District on a Chicago Watershed Plan that factors in climate changes and uses vacant land to manage stormwater.
5. Implement Green Urban Design
Implement key steps in Chicago’s Green Urban Design plan to manage heat and flooding. These steps will enable Chicago to capture rain where it falls and reflect away some of the intensity of the sun on hot days.
6. Preserve Our Plants and Trees
Publish a new plant-growing list that focuses on plants that can thrive in altered climates. Also draft a new landscape ordinance to accommodate plants that can tolerate the altered climate. View the list of recommended trees for Chicago's changing climate.
7. Engage the Public
Share climate research findings with groups most affected – social service agencies, garden clubs, etc. Help individual households to take their own steps to reduce flooding and manage heat waves, such as installing rain barrels and back-up power for sump pumps and planting shade trees.
8. Engage Businesses
Work with businesses to analyze their vulnerability to climate change and take action.
9. Plan for the Future
Use the Green Steering Committee of City Commissioners to oversee City implementation efforts and the Green Ribbon Committee of business and community leaders to assess how the plan is being implemented, recommend revisions, and report to the Mayor and all Chicagoans on our progress.