CHICAGO (CBS) — U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) and an environmental advocacy group are urging people to do something about climate change while they still can.
Durbin and the group Environment Illinois issued a report Wednesday on serious weather changes produced by global warming.
“It’s obvious something is happening here and we’re fools to ignore it. We need to step up to the reality,” Durbin said. “The warming of our climate is changing our weather patterns; in many respects, for the worst. We’re seeing more extreme weather.”
The senator joined Environment Illinois director Max Muller and University of Chicago geophysicist Raymond Pierre-Humbert in urging Illinois residents to do everything possible to battle climate change, including supporting federal legislation to reduce carbon emissions from vehicles and new power plants.
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They spoke alongside Lake Shore Drive, where hundreds of motorists were trapped overnight by last year’s Groundhog Day blizzard, only two weeks before flooding of the Mississippi River forced evacuation of the entire town of Cairo.
Muller and Durbin acknowledged the two tragedies alone aren’t a trend, but they said the entire report by Environment Illinois shows just how extreme our weather is becoming.
Environment Illinois said in its report entitled “In the Path of the Storm” that 97 percent of Illinois residents live in counties that have been hit by weather-related disasters since 2006. Cook County alone has experienced four federally declared weather disasters in that time.
The study also found that the U.S. has seen an increase in heavy precipitation events and that, last year, Texas experienced the hottest summer (June through August) ever recorded in any U.S. state.
Pierre-Humbert said, “Science is clear on the fact that the more we pump out carbon pollution from fossil fuels, the hotter it’s going to get.”
He acknowledged the region’s spring has been nice, but said the larger long-term picture isn’t as pretty.
“When this happens in the spring, maybe it doesn’t feel so bad, but when we’re suddenly faced with a typical summer having 60 days over 95 degrees or 100 Fahrenheit, that’s not going to seem so great,” Pierre-Humbert said.
The professor joined Durbin and Environment Illinois in urging passage of federal regulations to limit fossil fuel use by vehicles and power plants.