A new study plans to look at the impact of climate change on Chicago

Wednesday, September 7, 2022

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Chicago will be the focus of a five-year study on the impact of climate change.

"Urban regions are expected to face some of the most adverse effects of climate change including extreme heat and flooding," said Asmeret Asefaw Berhe, the director of the Office of Science at the U.S. Department of Energy.

The U.S. Department of Energy awarded $25 million to Argonne National Laboratory and a team of academic and community leaders to advance urban climate science. The money will be used to create an Urban Field Laboratory in Chicago called the Community Research on Climate and Urban Science.

"We are not going to be constructing anything in the ground. This is a virtual laboratory," said Cristina Negri, the director of the Argonne Environmental Science Division.

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Low-income communities of color are most vulnerable to the effects of climate change.

According to a 2021 EPA report, the most severe harms from climate change fall disproportionately upon underserved communities who are least able to prepare for, and recover from, heat waves, poor air quality, flooding, and other impacts.

"It is almost axiomatic. Blacks are hit first and worst by climate crisis, resourced least and last," said Naomi Davis, the founder and executive director of Blacks in Green.

"We have seen the roofs of our building get hotter, units get hotter, low-income and middle-class families having to use more energy just to cool their spaces," said Jessie Fuentes, the co-chair of the Puerto Rican Agenda.

That's why organizations like Blacks in Green and the Puerto Rican Agenda committed to participating in this climate change study.

"All too often we are the menu. We are talked about. Solutions are provided to us, but we are not part of the conversation," Fuentes said.

Part of the focus of the project will be increasing the number of climate and environmental researchers of color.

"This is the pipeline for the new green economy that we have been so excited about for so long," Davis said.

By the end of the study, researchers are hoping to develop climate models to predict the effects of climate change on individual neighborhoods so community members can work toward solutions.