You are not helpless – here are 10 ways you can help save the planet from climate change – Chicago Tribune

The world is burning.

But you can help extinguish it.

According to NASA’s “Climate Change Impacts,” droughts, wildfires, and torrential rains are occurring faster than scientists have assessed. “In fact, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) – the United Nations body created to assess the sciences related to climate change – modern man has never before experienced observable changes in our global climate, and some of these changes are irreversible in hundreds to thousands of years. the coming years,” the report states.

However, local environmental groups point out that this is not a time to sit on your hands and worry. Many people are already taking action to help the environment at the local level, and experts say small actions can collectively lead to big change.

Emphasizing negatives makes people feel helpless and tends to say, “I can’t do anything about it,” says Bob Fisher, communications coordinator for Bird Conservation Network,, when, in fact, there’s a lot more of us can do about it. this.

Could something as small as planting an oak or another shade tree have an impact on climate change?  Experts say it can't do any harm, and it does a lot of good.

“No one person or act is too small or insignificant to make a difference,” says Jill Johnson, director of communications at The Conservation Foundation,, a Naperville-based nonprofit organization.

“Doing something helps relieve anxiety. It helps you take control of the situation and find a way to get rid of the source of stress,” says Melissa Kostik, coordinator of the Chicago-area Tree Initiative,

Engaging in efforts to mitigate climate change helps people build community, a sense of belonging and a sense of purpose in terms of contributing to the common good, Annamarie Dorgan, director of community engagement services for the DuPage County Forest Preserve District, says .

Stacina Stagner, director of communications for the Forest Preserve in Cook County, told that the area offers many ways that people can reduce carbon emissions at home, in their community, and when enjoying forest reserves.

With the help of Fischer, Johnson, Kostick, Dorgan and Stagner, I have compiled a list of easy ways that ordinary people can help reduce the effects of climate change and alleviate their stress on the future of the planet.

Certainly you can:

  • Install solar panels on the roof of your home;
  • Driving an electric vehicle
  • Bring reusable bags to the grocery store.

Here are seven other ways you can make a difference.

Reduce collisions between birds.

When it comes to environmental health, Fisher said, “The birds really are the canaries in the coal mines.”

And bird strikes are a big killer of those canaries.

The American Bird Conservancy,, estimates that one billion birds die from collisions with structures. Contains information and ideas for preventing bird window strikes in both existing buildings and new construction. Stickers, paints, and special screens can help solve the problem. The same applies to municipal laws and decrees.

Fisher also suggests that homeowners reduce their use of pesticides. “It is very common now for someone to come in and kill all the mosquitoes. But they do not just kill the mosquitoes, they kill all the insects that are a food source for birds and other wildlife. Using pesticides is not helping the web of life.”

Planting and caring for shade trees, especially oaks.

“Urban areas are really tough on trees,” Kostick says. “More extreme weather – droughts and floods – make it more difficult for trees. But trees make life more convenient. People can take action by planting and caring for the trees around them.”

She said the Chicago area has a long relationship with the oak tree. Since the glaciers receded 10,000 years ago, oak trees have flourished in the Seven Provinces region.

Unfortunately, she said, many of these trees have disappeared, been cut down for firewood or furniture, or cut down as ornamentals. “It’s down 17 percent from what we had in the early 19th century.”

She said that what we are currently experiencing has been fragmented and separated. A study found that 500 species of caterpillars live in oak trees. They are food for birds and turn into butterflies.

“We don’t want to lose this important part of our heritage on which animals and wildlife depend.”

Learn more during October, a month dedicated to raising awareness and appreciation of oak trees. Some partners in the CRTI consortium will lead long walks, some will receive seed gifts, some will accept oak clusters that help feed wildlife, and a few garden centers will offer discounts on shade trees. Go to for more information.

Embrace the flesh of Monday.

Meats, such as beef and lamb, require a lot of land for grazing. Johnson said this land may be necessary for future reforestation/carbon sequestration. Add to this the emissions from livestock, the fertilizers and food needed to feed them, and the transportation costs to get them from pasture to processing, to storage, to your table. She said it all had an effect.

Remove invasive and indigenous species of plants.

Replacing plants such as Asiatic lilies, barberry and Russian sage with indigenous varieties such as bee balm, milkweed, goldfish and asters “helps provide a healthier environment,” Durgan said.


Dorgan said DuPage County Forest Preserves has more than 1,000 people on its volunteer roster. She said some help occasionally, others are regular. Some have specific skills, such as beekeeping. Some simply provide muscle and attention.

The 13,000-plus volunteers in Cook County, Stagner said, “led public engagement in habitat restoration, land stewardship, nature education, trail safety and scientific observation.”

Vote accordingly.

Fisher said he supports candidates and referendums that support natural areas. Begin, he suggests asking yourself, “Would you rather have a shopping mall or a woods next door?”

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Get out and enjoy nature.

Dorgan said between 13 and 14 percent of DuPage County is a forest reserve. Approximately 70,000 acres, 11 percent of Cook County, are protected and managed by that forest reserve area, Stagner said.

Walk around these areas, said Fisher, and perhaps walk away with a greater appreciation for the work that goes into protecting them.

“Just getting out of the house can help relieve your anxiety,” he said. He sees people in Oldfield Oaks and in the Palos area walking with binoculars and pointing things out.

“Just getting out and enjoying the wilderness areas,” he said, “is stress relief.”

Donna Vickroy is an award-winning reporter, editor and columnist for The Daily Southtown for 38 years.

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