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Climate

Photo: Hannah Porst

Climate Change is One of the Most Serious Environmental Challenges of Our Times

In Chicago we help lead the implementation of two powerful and inspiring plans. The Science Action Center is engaging Chicago's diverse communities in the Chicago Climate Action Plan (CCAP), which focuses on the City and on people. And Museum scientists have helped shape the Climate Action Plan for Nature (CAPN), which works in tandem with the CCAP and focuses on the natural environment and actions that will help flora and fauna in the 9-county region adapt to anticipated climate change impacts.

Our focus in the American Tropics—the foothills of the Andes and headwaters of the Amazon—is to inventory and protect vast expanses of forests that stretch intact from the lowlands up to the mountain crests. Plants and animals will then have a chance to move up the mountain as climate changes.

We also are looking into how to help avoid deforestation. The cutting down and burning of forests – especially in the tropics – is the source of 15 to 18% of the annual greenhouse gas emissions every year. That's more than what is emitted by all forms of transportation around the world. If we could avoid all deforestation it would be equivalent to removing all vehicles from around the globe. And the biodiversity benefits would be enormous. We have an avoided-deforestation pilot project (Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation or REDD) in Cordillera Azul, Peru.