The biggest threat to the sustainability of Park Forest - socially, economically, and environmentally - is climate change.
In Park Forest, climate change looks like more unpredictable weather, less frequent but more intense rainstorms, stronger and more frequent heat waves, milder winters, and hotter, more humid nights. This will affect quality of life for all Park Foresters.
If we don’t do anything, 2090 (just 70 years from now!) might have:
Over a month of 105+ temperatures. That means over a month per year of conditions similar to the 1995 heat wave that killed 739 people in the south side of Chicago. That heat wave lasted only 4 days.
Over 5 large floods on the scale of the one that closed Sauk Trail and flooded the Tennis and Health club in 2018.
New infectious diseases of animals, plants, and people. These will be both tropical diseases moving north and entirely novel diseases.
Worse and longer droughts.
Worse air quality.
And a totally different growing season, which will impact plants, animals, and all of the people and systems who depends on them (which is all of them).
Some warming is locked in, but we can still make a big difference if we take decisive action right now.
We share this information not to scare you but to make you aware of the scope and urgency of the problem. This is a driving force behind why the Village feels so strongly about its sustainability efforts - we plan to be here in 2090 and beyond, and we want to offer all current and future Park Foresters the best quality of life possible.
The graphs below show two potential futures: one where the world continues on with business as usual (red), and one where we all take drastic action to curb emissions by 2040 (blue). Join us as we steer towards the blue path.
How to read the graphs:
The grey areas on the graph are the models’ outputs for observed climate data, starting in 1950.
The red area represents the business-as-usual scenario (RCP 8.5 for the climate nerds), which reflects what would happen if emissions continued increasing at their current rate through 2100. The blue area is a lower-emissions scenario (RCP 4.5), which represents a world that stabilizes emissions by 2040 and then dramatically reduces emissions every year until 2100. The dark red and blue lines are the averages of all of the models for each scenario.
Average Daily Maximum Temperature in Park Forest from 1950-2099
Days Per Year with a Maximum Temperature over 105 Degrees, 1950-2099
Days Per Year With Over 2 Inches of Precipitation, 1950-2099
About the projections
This information comes from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Climate Explorer, which combines and compares many different climate models to predict local climate impacts.
If you’re wondering why the paragraph at the top references the worst case of the red model, that’s because we as a village have to plan for the worst case. Currently, (barring outside economic interference like the coronavirus), the world’s emissions are looking a lot more like red track. Additionally, these are just models - they only account for things we can quantify and don’t include some significant climate feedbacks (like tipping points like methane released from permafrost, changes in land use, and clouds) so they may well be underestimating the total climate change over time. In the face of scientific uncertainty with such life-and-death implications, it’s better to stick to the precautionary principle and prepare like the most extreme case will happen.