Saturday, September 19, 2009

Group sees dangerous heat waves in Illinois by 2050 due to climate change Illinois can bid goodbye to cool summers like the one just past if global warming continues unchecked, says the Chicago-based Union of Concerned Scientists. By the end of the century, climate change could force Chicagoans to endure summers with more than 70 days of temperatures reaching more than 90 degrees, and a month or more when the mercury climbs above 100 degrees, the USC says. More heat-related deaths will occur as Chicago residents face at least two summer heat waves each year like the one that killed several hundred people there in 1995. Currently, Chicago sees about 15 days higher than 90 degrees and one day above 100, on average.

Temperatures downstate might be worse, according to UCS Midwest office director Ron Burke. A related UCS study predicted people in Indianapolis, which is located more in line with Bloomington and Decatur, could sweat through more than 80 days of 90-degree temperatures and another 28 days at 100 degrees or more. "That's virtually the entire summer," Burke said.

By mid-century, all Illinois summers will be hotter than the summer of 1988, a drought year when a heat wave cost America $40 billion, mostly in crop losses, the UCS said. Illinois corn and soybean yields dropped that year by more than 75 percent of their average annual yields from 1978 to 1997, according to UCS figures that are part of recently published study, "Confronting Climate Change in Illinois."

Environment Illinois, another group worried about the climate, earlier estimated global warming could cost Illinois corn growers $243 million a year. The UCS research also concluded average annual rainfall will increase by 15 percent by 2050 and 30 percent by the end of the century, but summer rainfall will decrease by 15 percent by 2100….

The Chicago Ferris Wheel in 1893

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