Below are links to a selection of trustworthy resources in order to provide foundational knowledge.

Sampling of Some of Chicago’s Environmental Challenges

Air Pollution

This brief outlines how the Chicago Department of Public Health analyzed community-level data on air quality, health, and social factors to identify, for the first time, which neighborhoods must be prioritized for efforts to mitigate and reduce air pollution.
Download the Brief (PDF)

City health officials have identified that Chicago’s Southwest Side has the worst air quality in Chicago. Now, residents are concerned that several planned warehouse developments will only make things worse.
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A U.S. EPA report found that Chicago’s Southeast Side is overburdened with air pollution, but it’s below the agency’s long term health benchmark for concern. The report was published as city health officials co-hosted a meeting with the EPA regarding the health impact of whether the city grants an operating permit to a metal scrapping plant in the East Side neighborhood.
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Communities of color are more likely to be impacted by air pollution in the Chicago area than white people. That’s according to an ABC7 data team analysis.
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Climate Change

As an inland city, one would think that Chicago is insulated from the effects of climate change. But this interactive article from the New York Times pours cold water on that myth, exposing the city’s vulnerability to potentially catastrophic damage due to Lake Michigan’s erratic water levels and the city’s stressed water management system.
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The vast majority of American cities, including Chicago, experienced warmer fall temperatures than they did 50 years ago (57% warmed by at least two degrees).
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Climate Change: How Do We Know?
Direct observations made on and above Earth’s surface show the planet’s climate is significantly changing. Human activities are the primary driver of those changes.
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States at Risk: Illinois
A project aimed at showing how Americans in all 50 states are experiencing the impacts of climate change. Focuses on five threats — extreme heat, drought, wildfires, coastal flooding and inland flooding — and the states most affected by these threats.
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Energy Insecurity Among Chicago Homeowners: A Picture of Families Struggling to Keep Up
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Environmental Justice

The Principles of Environmental Justice
Read the Article (PDF)

Hungering to Breathe – Stories and lessons from inside the Stop General Iron hunger strike.
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To stop a scrapyard, some protesters in a Latino community risked everything. The facility relocated from Chicago’s affluent North Side to its working-class Southeast Side, igniting a controversy marked by race, class and politics.
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Land Use and Cumulative Impacts

Little Village and Southeast Side residents demand the city take action on polluters.
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Native American routes: the ancient trails hidden in Chicago’s grid system. Many of the city’s roads began as indigenous pathways – just one example of Native American infrastructure that helped make Chicago a successful city.
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Animals and Wildlife are missing or Flora/Fauna

Friends of the Chicago River – get to know the North American Beaver.
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Rare Great Lakes Piping Plovers at Montrose Beach
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Heavy rains cause farm chemicals — sometimes called “nutrients” — to pour into Illinois waterways. These chemicals are very dangerous to infants and have been linked to cancer in adults, and their levels in our water are increasing despite a goal to reduce them by 45% by 2025. We can expect more heavy precipitation events as our climate changes, so environmental agencies are working to educate farmers on how to mitigate runoff.
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Climate change has started pushing Lake Michigan’s water levels toward uncharted territory as patterns of rain, snowfall and evaporation are transformed by the warming world. The lake’s high-water cycles are threatening to get higher; the lows lower. Already, the swings between the two show signs of happening faster than any time in recorded history.
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Initiatives Working to Address Some of The Challenges

Blacks in Green
Aims to make Chicago’s South Side more environmentally sustainable, with a special focus on energy efficiency.
Further Reading

Friends of the Parks
Inspires, equips, and mobilizes a diverse Chicago to ensure an equitable park system for a healthy Chicago.

Grow Greater Englewood
The social enterprise seeks to empower residents to create wellness and wealth via green businesses.

Little Village Environmental Justice Organization (LVEJO)
Organizes for a healthier community in Little Village and beyond, focused on clean power, public transit, open space and more, organizing with those most impacted by industrialization and climate change.

Midwest Environmental Justice Project
Connects environmental justice activists and grassroot campaigns throughout the region.

Neighbors for Environmental Justice
Fosters awareness, organizes and promotes community action on environmental justice to achieve environmental health and just transition by preventing and reducing pollution and building a green, healthy and sustainable community and environment.

People For Community Recovery
Enhances the quality of life of residents living in communities affected by environmental pollution. PCR educates and advocates for policy and programs in an effort to coordinate with local residents on issues of the environment, health, housing, education, training, neighborhood safety, and economic equity.

Pilsen Environmental Rights & Reform Organization (PERRO)
Spreads awareness about environmental justice and works to make Pilsen a healthier place to live, work, and raise children.

Southeast Environmental Task Force
Informs and educates all members of the southeast Chicagoland community, including residents, businesses, and leaders, in areas related to the improvement of our neighborhood’s environment. They strive for sustainable development of residential facilities, environmentally friendly and green business practices, and preservation of natural areas that improve the quality of life in the Calumet region.

Chicago’s “Array of Things” Project
An experimental urban measurement project that acts as a fitness tracker for the city, utilizing real-time data about air quality, noise, and more from a network of nodes around the city. The aims of the project include informing policy to mitigate climate change impacts such as flooding, increased temperatures, etc.

Where does the city plant trees?

Tree Equity Tool
New tool that combines tree data with other metrics related to health outcomes such as air quality, surface temperature, and traffic volume. Data showed an association between more tree cover and better health outcomes.

Mayor Lightfoot announces tree equity & other green investments in the city’s 2022 budget

Chicago Public Schools could nearly double the number of schools participating in its composting program this school year

Illinois aims to have a million all-electric vehicles on the road by 2030
It’s driving residents toward that goal with major incentives – a $4,000 rebate for purchasing an electric vehicle and rebates on up to 80% of the cost of installing a charging station.

Gov. Pritzker signed legislation this fall to shut down all of the state’s coal plants by 2045
The law also funds a multi-year, multi-billion dollar build out of power plants fueled by renewable energy sources, which labor experts estimate will create more than 50,000 jobs.

Cook County is shopping for a partner to reach its goal of using 100% reusable energy for its 171 facilities by 2030

City Council passes ordinance to protect native & pollinator gardens from ticketing