Climate change is real according to most Cook County residents; here's what they're doing about it

47% of Americans believe climate change will affect them personally

ByTracy Butler and Blanca Rios, Maggie Green WLS logo
Wednesday, August 30, 2023
Here's what Chicago area people are doing to fight climate change
New data shows most Chicago area resident are worried about the environment, according to the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication shows.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- The climate change debate has been raging on for decades.

Most scientists agree it is happening and so do does the average person, according to new data collected from more than 28-thousand Americans.

ABC7 talked to people living and working in Chicago and what they are doing about "Weathering Tomorrow."

"The arctic is melting down, the ocean level water is rising - something is wrong," said Nazar Schmilik of Ukrainian Village.

"I see the change, like cities that are not meant to be so hot are suddenly getting hotter," said Gauri Pandya who lives in Chicago and works from home.

Still, there are other theories.

"I don't believe in it because I feel the world is so old it goes through different cycles," explained Kevin Perry who recently moved from Philadelphia to Chicago. "You never know, like this probably didn't have enough time to repeat itself yet. It's probably been this hot before."

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The ABC7 Data team analyzed survey-based climate opinion maps from the Yale Program and Climate Change Communication. The team found that while a majority of the country acknowledges climate change, less than half or 47% think it will affect them personally.

But closer to home, more people believe climate change is happening. In Cook County, 57% of people said they are worried about climate change.

"It's such a big scary thing," said Jane Elder, who works downtown. "I think It's frightening to think how much it will affect our future."

The collar counties mirror the national average when it comes to feelings about climate change. It broke down to 46% of people saying they believe in it in DuPage County, 45% in Kane, 47% in Lake County, Illinois and 46% in Lake County, Indiana.

Local people we talked to are finding different ways to do their part to care for the planet and lower their carbon footprint.

RELATED: Cook County summers expected to get even hotter by 2050, according to ABC7 heat analysis

"Our family has just one car - I 've always taken public transportation and now when the weather is nice I bike to work from Rogers Park to do downtown," said Kevin Davis. "We don't run air conditioners in the house. We live close enough to the lake where kind of enjoy the natural breezes."

Schmilik said he's helping lower emission use at home too. "A few years ago I changed my lawn mower to a battery one," said Schmilik.

Pandya said she carry's a bag everywhere she goes and tries her best not to buy single-use plastic.

"If I have bought takeaways then I wash plastic containers and then put it in the recycle because what I have read and heard, if they have a little bit of food it's over, they never recycle, it goes into trash," said Pandya.

"I bring my own lunch," said Luke Blokovich who works downtown and eats his lunch at the Riverwalk. "I guess that kind of combats plastic waste. Same with a water bottle."

Others said they're trying to shop more sustainably and not cave in to fast fashion.

"I get most of my clothes second hand," said Jane Elder. "That way it's taking something someone may have thrown away so it's not getting thrown into a landfill."

Some are trying to use more eco-friendly baby products like Eric Mejia.

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"They say babies are not Earth friendly," said Mejia. "This is a reusable diaper, hello, no brands, and we use them like for different things. Their diapers and if they're clean we use them as burp rags."

"I live here on this earth with everybody else and we have to share it," said Davis. "Our impact is small, but if collectively people do it, it can make a difference."