A new report urges state government to get Illinois ready for the effects of climate change. The study from the University of Illinois' Institute of Government and Public Affairs emphasizes no matter what's done on reducing global carbon emissions, average temperatures are going to rise by at least a few degrees. That will lead to more severe storms in spring, longer droughts in summer, higher electricity costs, and lower crop yields.
One of the report's authors, Don Fullerton, says a statewide climate action plan must be discussed now for Illinois to be prepared for these problems.
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"We need to step up the efforts is really the point here," Fullerton said. "It's going to cost millions of dollars, potentially billions of dollars, before Illinois is finished dealing with these infrastructure problems."
Water infrastructure may have to be dealt with first, Fullerton says. That includes new aqueducts, water storage facilities, and new irrigation systems on farms.
Fullerton says the debate on whether the climate change is real is over, even if experts can't predict exactly how high temperatures will rise and how severe the storms and droughts will be. "There's always ranges on these estimates," Fullerton said, "but it's not going to be zero effect on climate."