Energize Ohio signature program addresses increasing energy demands

Energize Ohio 2015-03-25The future requires energy; even more energy than is consumed today. Global energy demands rose by 83% from 283 quadrillion British thermal units (Btu) in 1980 to more than 507 quadrillion Btu in 2010. The 2012 International Energy Outlook Report estimates that by 2020, additional growth in worldwide energy consumption will more than double our 1980 usage and grow to 820 quadrillion Btu by 2040. Why? Much of the growth in energy consumption is occurring in developing countries, where countries with strong, established economies drive steady demand. Second only to China, the United States consumed 18% of the world energy total in 2011, and Ohio ranked as the sixth highest energy consuming state in the nation.

Why is energy development in Ohio important? The availability of affordable energy influences both economic growth and the general quality of life of Ohioans. In 2012 the average per capita energy expenditure in Ohio was $4,265, representing roughly 12 percent of Ohioans’ per capita income.

How is Extension involved in helping to ensure the availability of affordable energy? Utilizing a multi-disciplinary approach, the Energize Ohio Signature Program addresses a wide range of renewable and shale energy education needs including: youth energy education, energy policy, farm energy education, homeowner energy education and sustainable community planning. Energize Ohio curriculum consists of teaching outlines, worksheets, presentation materials, workshop materials, bulletins, fact sheets, marketing templates and evaluation tools available for use by all Extension professionals. Two core initiatives are the current Energize Ohio focus: shale energy and renewable energy education.

Last year, Energize Ohio Signature Program team members engaged more than 1,900 participants in 62 programs throughout the state. New energy-related publications were developed as well, including four fact sheets, two journal articles and one technical bulletin.

Since 2012, the Energize Ohio Signature Program has reached nearly 12,000 Ohioans via 141 programs conducted in 64 of Ohio’s 88 counties. The ultimate goal of these efforts:  To increase knowledge of energy drivers and development that enables best practices and informed decision-making.

For more details related to the Energize Ohio program, please view the 2014 Energize Ohio Signature Program Report.

For more information on energy trends, please view the Trend Research: Energy Sources, Demands, and Cost paper found at the FAES Conversations on the Future of Extension webpage.

(Submitted by Eric Romich, Assistant Professor and Extension Field Specialist, Energy Development)

Extension in the City: focusing on city priorities

Cities are booming. All across the United States, as well as the world, the urban population continues to grow at historic rates. Currently, 80% of Americans live in an area defined as “urban,” the same as Ohio. Over half of the people in Ohio live in the ten most populated counties, and even larger proportions of people are economically contingent on these urban areas. This creates peculiar urban-suburban-rural dependencies. The connection between these areas leads to an interesting network for Extension programming. Extension is traditionally known as an agricultural-based organization that operates mostly in rural areas, but tries to take a different, more applicable approach when working in urban areas.

Extension in the CityWith 11.5 million residents, Ohio is the seventh most populated state in the nation. Ohio’s six largest cities are Columbus, Cleveland, Cincinnati, Toledo, Akron and Dayton. Ohio’s ten most populated counties are Cuyahoga, Franklin, Hamilton, Summit, Montgomery, Lucas, Stark, Butler, Lorain and Mahoning.

To reach more residents in Ohio’s largest cities, four primary working groups have emerged in Extension to focus on different city priorities. These areas of focus were identified through conversations with various stakeholder groups, supported through campus and national networks, and approached through multi-disciplinary teams and resources. The groups collaborate and discuss programming barriers they face in their cities, as well as new ways to address these issues. While every city in Ohio is unique, these working groups assist one another in more effectively impacting their area of focus.

  • Food & Agriculture in the City: Ohio communities are making the production, processing, distribution, preparation and celebration of food a catalyst for urban neighborhood redevelopment.
  • Health and Wellness in the City: Extension empowers Ohioans with the knowledge, skills and tools needed to make healthy choices, creating healthy people with healthy relationships and healthy finances at every stage of life.
  • 4-H Youth Development in the City: The OSU Extension 4-H Youth Development programming offers educational opportunities in a variety of settings for youth ages 5–19, catering to urban audiences.
  • Sustainable Cities: Extension specialists work with city leaders on economic, environmental and social drivers that impact life in the city.

As these working groups are creating ways to more efficiently reach potential participants, efforts are also being made to better equip our educators in urban areas with tools to reach more people. The goal is to provide them with ways to make their programs more applicable to residents in the cities where they work, as well as facilitating professional development to ensure they are being excellent ambassadors of The Ohio State University, the College of Food, Agricultural and Environmental Sciences and OSU Extension.

To learn more, visit cityextension.osu.edu. This is an emerging effort and your comments, suggestions and participation are all welcomed. If you think you would like to join the OSU Extension in the City team as a core, affiliate/working group or informational member, please feel free to contact James Stiving (stiving.3@osu.edu) or Julie Fox (fox.264@osu.edu).

(Submitted by James Stiving, Program Assistant, Extension in the City/Central Region Office and Julie Fox, Associate Professor, Associate Chair, Director of Central Region and OSU Extension in the City)

Global Climate Change – Update 2015

The topic of man-made global climate change has remained the most widely discussed environmental subject in recent years. I have been writing and teaching about this topic for my entire 20+ years at Ohio State University Extension. I have seen how it polarizes people along a number of lines, including along political lines. That is one of the reasons it continues to hold so much interest for so many people.

My job as an environmental economist though is to sift through the theory and the data. When we take these things together, we might not be able to prove or disprove a hypothesis beyond any doubt – that is beyond the scope of science. But what we can and should do is to try to draw the most reasonable conclusions we can from all the evidence. Essentially that is what scientific method is all about.

Earth’s temperature has always fluctuated. Depending on the time frame considered (millions of years, thousands of years, centuries, etc), the causes of climate change vary. Over the longest term, continental drift (where the continents are positioned on the globe) makes the biggest difference in temperatures. When tropical ocean currents are blocked from getting near the poles, as in the world we occupy today, the earth is cold and snowy, with glaciers, icebergs and permafrost. For most of earth’s history the “ice house” earth we occupy has not been the case. But it has been the case for the entire time in which we (humans) have been around. Our genus (homo) most likely got its start around 7 to 8 million years ago

Milankovitch Cycles - 2015-03-12

Image credit: www.slideshow.net

Over periods of tens of thousands of years the dominant driver of climate has been a series of somewhat regular variations in earth’s orbit around the sun called Milankovitch cycles. These cycles brought on the ice ages. Twenty thousand years ago, northern Ohio lay under a mountain of ice more than a thousand feet thick. You can still see evidence of this today at the glacial grooves on Kelley’s Island. Obviously there has been a lot of global warming over the past 20 thousand years to melt all that ice. And this warming was in fact also brought about by the Milankovitch cycle.

Scientists have observed that the warmest period since the last ice age was about 5,000 years ago. They dub this peak the Holocene Maximum, denoting the warmest point in our current geological epoch. Since then global temperatures began to slowly decline, presumably leading earth eventually into a new ice age to occur some time in the future – perhaps within the next few thousand years. There have been some fluctuations around the cooling trend since the Holocene Maximum. Some of these deviations may have occurred as a result of increased solar output, along with changes in ocean currents.

Over the past 150 years however, the post Holocene Maximum cooling trend has not only abated, it has reversed. In fact the rate of global warming has accelerated considerably in the past thirty years, and is currently at .15 C degrees per decade (about ¼ degree F). The most likely cause of this trend is the increased concentration of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere that has primarily resulted from the production and use of coal, oil and natural gas, aka “fossil fuels.” Deforestation and the burning of wood have also contributed. Prior to the industrial revolution, atmospheric CO2 concentration was very stable at about 280 parts per million (PPM). It has grown steadily ever since, to a current level of 400 PPM, the highest it has been for any period in which humans have been present on earth. CO2 causes the earth’s temperature to rise by trapping escaping heat in the atmosphere (the greenhouse effect).

Given world population growth, current technology and our reliance on fossil fuels, I do not believe that humans will be able to prevent CO2 concentrations from rising to 450 PPM by mid-century (2050). I think this will lead to an overall warming of about 2 degrees F, and will have enormous ramifications for the entire planet, especially agriculture and lands adjacent to oceans and seas. I think that at a minimum, since we have so far been unable to find appropriate substitutes for the energy sources that cause global warming, we should be investing heavily into finding ways to allow us to cope with the consequences of living on an earth that is significantly warmer than any humans have ever experienced.

If you are interested in learning more about this topic or scheduling a program in your area, please contact me at blaine.17@osu.edu. I currently have two slide shows ready to present. A review of earth’s climate history over the past 542 million years (the Phanerozoic Eon) is the focus of “Global Climate Change: Update 2015.” A more “local” approach is taken in “Climate Change: Outlook for Ohio to 2050.”

(Submitted by Thomas W. Blaine, Associate Professor, OSU Extension)


Leave it better than you found it

It was late and cold, and by that point, I really just wanted to be home on this particular Friday night in October. Instead, I was standing in the field adjacent to the high school football stadium, waiting for my daughter and her fellow band members to finish loading their instruments and uniforms into the band truck. As I saw the final carts rolled onto the vehicle, I expected the band director, an energetic, disciplined young man, enjoying the first few months of his newly minted college degree, to dismiss the group for the evening. Instead, he gathered the kids around him, and then surprisingly dispatched them into the area around the parking lot with the instructions, “Let’s leave this place better than we found it.” The teenagers happily (really, they actually seemed happy) fanned out into the field and returned with their arms full of empty pizza boxes, tattered candy wrappers and half full bottles of Gatorade. They were carrying trash that they didn’t create – garbage that had been carelessly left behind by others who had enjoyed the night’s activities.

Leave it better #2 - 2015-03-05Let’s leave this place better than we found it. I realized that those nine words communicated many of the ideals that I hope to instill in my daughter: respect, service and commitment to something larger than self. Imagine if each of us began every day with that goal in mind. At work, at school, in our communities, our homes, within our groups and families, if we each made the promise, in any way large or small, to leave this place better than we found it.

It’s easy to begin to generate a list of professionals who focus on improving people and situations – folks in the medical field, educators, architects, highway crews, just to name a few. Their “improvements” are often large, measurable and easy to see. But sometimes, the opportunities we have to improve something are more like a nudge than a big transformation. A remarkable teenager, Anne Frank, born generations before my daughter and her band friends, wrote in her diary, “How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.” How wonderful indeed.

Seek Excellence Logo - blogIf you’re looking for a little inspiration and a lot of solid, research-based information to help improve your world, be sure to check out the educational programs and resources offered by OSU Extension’s Community Development professionals at comdev.osu.edu/programs/leadership-development/seek-excellence. We are eager to work with your community, group or business to help you discover ways that you can leave your world better than you found it.

(Submitted by Becky Nesbitt, Assistant Professor and Extension Educator, Ohio Valley EERA)