U.S. Rep. Lauren Underwood, D-Naperville, led a roundtable discussing the dangers of climate change Friday at the McHenry County College Shah Center.
With an audience of about 30 and a panel of eight, including Underwood, topics included the significance of the Paris Climate Agreement and President Donald Trump’s announcement to end the United States’ participation in it.
In 2017, Trump formally notified the United Nations of the decision. However, the U.S. cannot effectively withdraw before Nov. 4, 2020, Underwood said.
Underwood, who along with Rep. Donna Shalala of Florida introduced House Resolution 3819, The Climate and Health Protection Act, said Illinois is the fifth-largest energy consuming state in the nation. It was ranked first in 2018 in net electricity generation from nuclear power from its six nuclear power plants. However, Underwood said, most of the state’s energy is derived from coal, natural gas and ethanol.
She encouraged the use of clean energy derived from renewable, zero-emissions sources – solar, wind, water, geothermal, bio-energy and nuclear.
The panel said climate change negatively affects the local economy, specifically the farmers whose farms make up half of McHenry County. The panel members also discussed how it affects people’s health, directly and indirectly, and has changed the nature of flooding, wildfires and hurricanes.
Panel member Jim Anderson, director of the National Resources Department for the Lake County Forest Preserve District, said climate change is the cause of recent storms that have killed native plants. Areas that once were 500-year floodplains now are 100-year floodplains. The costs are high and range from expensive insurance premiums to the inundation of disease-borne mosquitoes and ticks. He urged people to support their county conservation districts.
He said, as did the American Indians, “We need to think seven generations out.”
Anderson urged making choices to keep the wetlands healthy and to plant trees, but trees from a local nursery that offers trees native to the area rather than a large commercial retailer, he said.