Blog: Carlita the Croc

Chicago's changing climate


Climate Change: Chicago edition
If you have been following along with my blog you now know what climate change is, how it happens and why it’s important to me. Let’s talk about why it should be important to you: my fellow Chicagoans.  

Polar Vortex
Yep, those occasional ungodly cold temperatures are a symptom of “global warming.”  The long and short of it is that the polar vortex is a wind pattern that acts like spandex:  when it’s strong, it keeps cold air tucked tightly up in the Arctic.  But when the polar vortex weakens, that cold air comes bulging out as far down as the United States. 

Chicago family during polar vortex

So, what weakens the polar vortex winds?  Ah, that is where the overall heat-trapping effect comes into play. A warming Arctic Ocean causes those spandex-like winds to weaken and send that cold air bulging down into Chicago.

The Birds and the Bees and the Flowers and the Trees
Much like the song, nature is synchronized and species survive through symbiotic relationships.  Birds and bees rely on flowers and trees for food and shelter.  Flowers and trees need birds and bees for pollination and protection.  In a region like Chicagoland, where winter sends animals into hibernation or their migration routes, timing is everything.  When an early thaw signals plants to grow and bloom before the birds return or the bees wake up from their winter slumber…well then everything goes out of whack! 

This is no bueno for a few reasons.  One, because the propagation of nature is important to our health and well-being. Two, because bees + flowers = food.  About 30% of the food you eat, in fact, is pollinated by bees, FOR FREE!  

Bee and flower

According to the World Economic Forum, “Climate change is water change.” Being that Chicago sits right on the edge of 84% of the nation’s freshwater, it’s easy to take water for granted.  But warming lake water can have a huge impact on our climate:  less ice means more evaporation. Less ice also means fewer places for whitefish to lay their eggs protected from storms.  And while you may enjoy the warmer water for a swim in the summer, warmer water is a more inviting environment for certain types of algae which reduce water quality. Reduced water quality means you don’t get to swim- at all. 

Lake Michigan

Creepy Crawlies
Luckily, Chicago has less than its fair share of menacing, many-legged critters due to its cold winters.  But, warmer winters could make it possible for insects like fire ants or Africanized bees to make themselves at home. 

I know, I know…at the beginning of this post I talked about the polar vortex making it super cold in Chicago.  But remember, that usually isn’t for a sustained amount of time. According to the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning their research shows the climate is getting warmer and the sustained, really cold days that prevent some insects from invading are getting fewer. 


But don’t despair! 
Although this is the path we’re currently on, there is still time to change lanes! Reducing our CO2 emissions on a large scale is the key. A great way to do this is through expanding and improving public transportation. Transportation in the U.S. contributes 31% of the rampant CO2 emissions in the atmosphere. By supporting improvement in infrastructure and safety of Chicagoland’s public transportation system so that we could transport more people with fewer vehicles, we can put a major dent in the amount of emissions Chicagoland contributes to climate change. Not only that, but we could serve as a role model for other U.S. cities! Check out Active Transportation Alliance for tips on getting started. 


So there you have it, just a few of the ways climate change impacts the Chicagoland area.  Of course, there’s still a lot to be said about this and I’ll continue to discuss them. 

Until next time, Crocophiles…and if you have any questions, tweet me @candidcroc!

Posted: 3/28/2016 3:04:42 PM by

Carlita the Croc

I'm Carlita the Croc, here to deliver my candid views on various topics, articles, news, and stories in conservation. For the latest news follow me on Twitter, for striking photos follow me on Instagram.


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