CHICAGO (SCS) — A new study shows that extreme heat is heading our way in the near future.
CBS 2’s Jackie Kostek spoke with a climatologist who said some of the changes we expect to see over the next 20, 30, 50 years are enough to make Chicago look like Texas.
And it has real consequences on everything from personal health to infrastructure.
In Chicago, the summer was quite comfortable. But a new study published by the non-profit research and technology group First Street Foundation shows an emerging ‘extreme heat belt’ – around a quarter of the country that is expected to experience temperatures above 125 degrees by 2053. .
When it comes to infrastructure, the study shows that building materials like steel and heat absorb heat easily and can reach surface temperatures of 140 degrees or more. It could be enough to burn people’s skin and dog paws on the pavement.
Enough to cause bridge joints to swell and railway lines to ripple, leading to possible derailments, the study found.
But that’s only part of it. Amir Jina, an economist and climatologist and assistant professor at the University of Chicago, said that at the individual level, extreme temperatures can lead to heat-related illnesses and exacerbate pre-existing health conditions.
Not to mention the increased energy costs.
“It’s the people who live in poverty, the less well-off, who really carry those burdens, because a lot of the ways we have to deal with that. Stay indoors, work from home, that kind of stuff. If you’re not able to do that, you are bound to be more exposed,” Jina said.
This extreme heat belt stretches from northern Texas and Louisiana through the middle of the country to Illinois, Indiana and even Wisconsin.