Why Climate? Global climate change is a top threat facing our environment and communities. In addition to efforts to restore biodiversity, we must work to minimize our losses and maximize our chances that people, plants and wildlife can successfully adapt. Recognizing the potential of climate change to jeopardize conservation investment, The Field Museum’s Science Action Center integrates climate considerations across our Chicago Region programs. Climate helps to prioritize and inform our restoration, conservation, and quality of life efforts. It plays a central role in community engagement, and is highlighted in environmental education curriculum.
Why Chicago? More than half of the world’s population now lives in urban areas, a proportion expected to increase to 66% by 2050. At the same time cities and associated metropolitan areas are experiencing increases in population growth, they are also becoming especially important to global biodiversity conservation. The Chicago region is at the intersection of two of North America's bioregions (where the eastern forest meets the midwestern prairie), and is a global biodiversity hot spot. Given this growing ecological importance, it’s imperative to develop pathways for people to become part of the solution by empowering them to restore and to re-connect the natural areas we all fully depend on for our quality of life.
Why the Field Museum? Our collections are a library of life on earth. Since The Museum’s inception, our scientists have been authorities on the importance to humanity of the biodiversity and cultural diversity represented by the collections. We thus have a unique ability to answer questions about climate, from how climate has influenced changes in species distribution and abundance through time, to how climate contributed to the development or demise of past civilizations. This information can help us understand how current climate change may affect nature and people in the coming decades, and subsequently inform conservation management in this time of great environmental change. Action Center staff specialize in bridging between the science and the action that can be taken to reduce climate impacts in the Chicago region.
What Kind of Action? Our approach to climate action is unique. We address the impacts of climate change on urban nature and communities. We leverage community assets to build a more resilient city. We not only educate youth about climate change but empower them to take action. We understand that the threat of climate change is real, the time to act is now, and that the Action Center’s distinctive approach can have measureable results.
Our work is rooted at the intersection of science and culture, and Action Center scientists use this lens to guide climate efforts. We take three strategic approaches to climate action in the Chicago region:
Developing and implementing strategies that reduce climate impacts on urban nature Conservation ecologists lead the Climate Action initiative of Chicago Wilderness, a multistate alliance of more than 300 organizations dedicated to restoring biodiversity, and are instrumental in advancing efforts that bridge the gap between climate science and adaptation practices in urban natural areas and green spaces. Toward this end, we have helped shape the Chicago Wilderness Climate Action Plan for Nature that focuses on the natural environment and actions that will help flora and fauna in the 9-county region adapt to anticipated climate change impacts.
Engaging Communities in Climate Action Urban environmental anthropologists help guide the development of community-led climate action. We translated ethnographic research on diverse Chicago communities into community engagement programs and convene partners to gather viewpoints and foster dialogue that informs place-based action projects.
Engaging Youth in Climate Action The Science Action Center’s Youth Conservation Action programs work with educators to provide them the knowledge and skills needed to increase awareness about how climate change is affecting nature and people, and connect youth to opportunities to become involved in actions that help reduce these impacts.
Who Do We Reach? Action Center’s climate work reaches a range of audiences, including natural resource managers, municipal decision-makers, community members, formal and informal educators and youth.