Find out more during the FREE June 7 Webinar
“Few people would be making a big deal of climate change if the changes weren’t making big differences in land, air, water, infrastructure and economies — the ingredients of our daily lives. Climate science offers a wide lens on how ecosystems and social systems affect each other. The science and stories behind each impact present more questions we must now answer to support communities into the future.”
Source: University of California – Davis
Here in Central Ohio climate change is often not the first thought on my mind. After all, we aren’t experiencing the most intense impacts – drought, hurricanes, flooding coastlines, massive fires – all destroying property and, worst yet, taking lives – are we?
While we may be spared some of the extremes, our changing climate in Ohio is already having a pronounced effect on farmers, the fishing industry and residents along Lake Erie and other waterways in the state, to name a few interest groups. Here are a few selected impacts for Ohio from a 2016 EPA report:
- In the last century, Ohio’s climate has warmed around 1.5 Degree Fahrenheit. This warming trend has accelerated in recent decades, with nighttime and winters showing the greater temperature.
- Average annual precipitation in the Midwest increased by 5-10% over the last 50 years. This increase is projected to continue, particularly in the Eastern part of the region. As a result, the frequency of flooding is likely to increase in Ohio and surrounding states.
- Heavy downpours are most likely to occur in the winter and spring, when soil is saturated or frozen, impacting agricultural runoff and water quality. Intense rainfall will also impact urban areas with combined sewer and storm water systems, potentially causing sewage overflow and water contamination.
- Increased water temperatures in the Great Lakes will likely affect some coolwater fish species and will create favorable conditions for harmful algal blooms.
- Forests will be threatened by drier conditions, fires, invasive insects and land use changes due to development patterns. As temperatures increase, some tree species are expected to shift their range to the north.
These are only some of the projected impacts Ohio will experience from our warming climate. Land Use Planners, zoning officials and local elected and appointed leaders are, in many locales, increasingly needing to be on the forefront of building resilient communities that will be able to adapt to projected changes in climate. A sampling of such initiatives currently underway in Ohio includes:
GreenCityBlueLake Institute at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History: In existence since 1992, GCBL has been a leader in topics related to sustainable cities and climate change.
Smart Columbus: In 2016 Columbus competed against 77 cities throughout the U.S. to win the Smart City Challenge, providing over $40 million to achieve transportation and sustainability goals, including reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.
Byrd Polar and Climate Research Center of The Ohio State University: One of the top research programs on the contribution of cold climates to the global climate system, BPCRC’s mission is to “conduct multi-disciplinary research, offer enhanced educational opportunities, and provide outreach activities with the goal of promoting understanding of the ever-evolving Earth System”.
An upcoming webinar hosted by eXtension’s Community Planning and Zoning Community of Practice, a team of researchers, educators and community practitioners from throughout the U.S., will be held in early June to identify community and land use impacts of climate change. This webinar is free and open to those who seek information on climate change and steps communities can take to mitigate impacts. Please note that registration is required, and a link is provided in the description below:
Community and Land Use Impacts from Climate Change
Thursday, June 7 at 1 p.m. eastern time for 1 hour
Complete information is available at: learn.extension.org/events/3455
A panel of speakers from three different states (Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin) will discuss how communities’ land use decisions can impact and respond to a changing climate. They will share examples from various communities and may touch on agriculture and food, infrastructure systems, the link with smart growth and sustainability, and environmental protection. In addition, each speaker will discuss how climate change is expected to affect their various states.
- The first speaker is Thomas W. Blaine, an Environmental Economist with Ohio State University Extension. He has published numerous fact sheets and blog posts about climate change. He will lead off this webinar providing an overview of climate change and what it means for communities throughout the United States.
- The second speaker is Jim Shortle, a Distinguished Professor of Agricultural and Environmental Economics and Director of the College of Agricultural Sciences Environment and Natural Resources Institute at Penn State. His talk will focus on water management and recreation and provide examples of what communities can do in these areas.
- Our third and final speaker is Jim LaGro, a professor in the Department of Planning and Landscape Architecture at the University of Wisconsin – Madison. He will focus on climate change strategies used by communities that also focus on community livability and sustainability.
The webinar will wrap up with an opportunity for questions and answers.
Please register by June 4 at: extension.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_7EYOA-K3Tq6T7zSL9iVpIw. “Seating” is limited.
1 AICP CM credit is available.
Myra Moss is an Associate Professor and Extension Educator, OSU Extension Community Development.