54. Chicago • Illinois, USA
We have selected 100 unique places on Earth that are projected to undergo profound changes within the next few generations. We based our selection of the 100 places on the 4th Assessment Report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Simply by drawing attention to the beauty of these places, 100 Places to Remember Before they Disappear creates an argument to preserve them. The 100 Places we have chosen to highlight, and the people who live in them, are in serious danger because of rising sea levels, rising temperatures and extreme weather events triggered by climate change. Among ambassadors are Joss Stone, Desmund Tutu for more info visit http://www.100places.com. Chicago! Its the Pulse of America Chicago has been the Midwests centre of transportation, industry, finance and entertainment ever since it was founded in the 1830s on the south-eastern shore of the great Lake Michigan, close to the Mississippi River. As French actress Sarah Bernhardt said: Chicago! Its the pulse of America. Today, it is the third most populous city in the USA. More than 9.5 million people live in the Chicago metropolitan area, popularly known as Chicagoland. It is intersected by the Chicago River, which runs through the downtown area, its banks lined with modern architecture and futuristic tower blocks. Known as a Mecca of music, film, theatre and culture, Chicago is a melting pot of the descendants of immigrants of every imaginable origin. Its most famous son is US president Barack Obama, but others include the notorious gangster, Al Capone. Chicago attracts 45 million tourists a year. Chicago is also an extremely important transport hub, with a network of 97 km of underground freight railways encompassing most of the downtown area, and freeways connecting it with other cities in the Midwest. In the last 30 years, the city has seen an average temperature rise of 1.5°C. In 1995, a severe heatwave killed 700 Chicagoans. In 1986, 1996 and 2008, it experienced severe flooding, with torrential rain shutting down highways and railroads, causing damage to streets and bridges and flooding properties in much of Chicagoland. Throughout the rest of the 21st century, Chicago could experience a gradual, dramatic increase in heatwaves and flooding due to global warming. Prolonged summer droughts and heavy rainfall would have a grave effect on its infrastructure and transport system. An increase in hot summer days with temperatures rising above 43°C, combined with unpredictable heavy rain and flooding, could cause more heat-related health problems and damage Chicagos tourism industry. By the end of the century, the climate in Chicago could be similar to that of southern states like Texas and Alabama today.