Balancing our needs and the planet is a challenge for all of us

This editorial is the general opinion of the Daily Herald Editorial Board

Today’s heat – expected to hit a high in the 1990s for the second day in a row – could break the Chicago-area temperature record. And we haven’t even reached the official start of summer.

Suburban dwellers have weathered heat waves before, of course, but they will become more and more common with global warming. As temperatures this week approach 100 degrees, we have two responsibilities: keeping ourselves and our families safe from the dangerous heat and cooling our homes as efficiently as possible, thus reducing our bills and carbon emissions.

Our new reporter on climate change, Jenny Weeden, explored this important topic in her first article for Us on Tuesday. It’s the kind of business you can expect to see in the coming months when she joins the Daily Herald in partnership with Report for America.

So what should a homeowner do with temperatures soaring?

First, make sure your air conditioner is in good working order. The units typically run on a potent greenhouse gas called hydrofluorocarbons. Leaks are harmful to the environment, so you need to make sure that your unit is intact.

Experts advise residents to take into account the general use of air conditioners.

Those with window units can limit the air conditioning to one or two rooms. Ceiling fans can be of great help in keeping cool, allowing comfort in high temperatures. Blackout curtains and shades block the sun’s rays.

Ralph Muhlezen, chief construction scientist at Argonne National Laboratory, also suggests turning off electrical appliances when you don’t need them.


“Every bit of the electricity that goes into your home turns into heat,” Mollisen told Whidden. “It’s not just wasting electricity, it’s generating heat.”

And that’s the last thing we need when Mother Nature generates so much of her life.

Tips on how to save energy will be a large part of our coverage of climate change as we explore its impact on weather, water supplies, and our way of life.

Our partnership with Report for America is as important as that of our new Climate Change Correspondent. If you would like to donate to this mission, please go to

In the meantime, we’d love to hear about local projects and concerns about climate change, as well as ideas you have to cover. Contact to share your suggestions and keep watching for expanded coverage.

In the meantime, stay safe and check on people at risk of heat. High temperatures are dangerous – even deadly.