The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

Illinois residents go green over coffee with state climatologist

Champaign-Urbana residents and climate activists alike gathered Wednesday morning at the Prairie Rivers Network to enjoy coffee, mingle and hear Trent Ford, the Illinois State Climatologist, give an overview of what climate change in Illinois looks like.

Throughout his presentation, Ford covered a myriad of issues surrounding climate change, though he did specify that extreme heat would be a main concern in the coming years.

“The problem with extreme heat is that it’s the hazard that’s best connected with climate change,” Ford said. “There are very few places on earth that are likely going to not experience any kind of increase in extreme heat.”

Ford went on to describe “the water problem,” which involves more frequent and intense rainfall in Illinois, leading to flooding and — when combined with the aforementioned high heat — agricultural droughts.

Ford closed his presentation by specifying that these problems are not without solutions. He explained that, at the local level, Illinois residents can make simple lifestyle changes to cut their emissions, such as refraining from buying from fast fashion brands and mobilizing within their communities.

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Community outreach, such as Wednesday’s event, is another factor in solving the issues in Ford’s presentation.

“Community engagement is really important,” Ford said. “Trying to, again, see solutions come out that benefit the community.”

Amanda Pankau, director of energy and community resilience at the PRN, expanded on this, saying “empowering them (event attendees) with information, knowledge and connections means that they can be voices for all this change that needs to happen.”

In her presentation about some of the work that the PRN engages in, Pankau mentioned that there were plenty of ways for Champaign-Urbana residents to get involved, including volunteering with the network and even taking advantage of certain tax credits for transitioning to clean energy offered via the Inflation Reduction Act.

After the presentations, Ford and Pankau welcomed questions from the audience spanning from queries about statewide solar panel development to community agricultural development.

One attendee, former salesman Bill Glithero, carved out time in his schedule to express concern about pesticide use harming his gardens.

“My wife has spent eight years putting together a bunch of gardens,” Glithero said. “The farmers around us over the last couple years used Dicamba and 2,4-D, which is a pesticide that makes all of our fruit and vegetables inedible — that’s one of the reasons we came here.”

Another community member, Andy Robinson, an employee for the University in retro-commissioning, attended after seeing a Facebook event listed for Climate Action Week.

“I think it’s very helpful to have a place for the community to get together to hear from local experts like U of I climatologists,” Robinson said.

In honor of the Urbana Park District’s Climate Action Week, the PRN and the Urbana Park District are hosting a multitude of other events in the following week, all of which are open to the public.

The Green Ball: A Celebration of Renewable Fashion and Sustainability will be hosted Friday evening from 7-10 p.m. at the Siebel Center for Design, featuring around 27 runway participants showing off their renewable fashion ideas.

Saturday afternoon from 1-4 p.m. will feature the Climate Action Celebration at Crystal Lake Park in Urbana. This event will feature live music, free refreshments and other activities. Champaign County Bikes will also be doing bike checkups and a Learn to Ride clinic, which is open to all ages.

All events this week are open to the public, and those interested can visit the Urbana Park District website for more information.


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