Effects of climate change visible in Ohio, university experts say

The formation of both hurricanes Harvey and Irma in quick succession have brought concerns that global warming is increasing the rate and scale of hurricanes. 

Many experts are unsure on the issue — it’s difficult to draw a correlation between hurricanes and rising temperatures because hurricanes are such rare events, . Experts in climate change at Ohio University do say, however, that effects of climate change are visible in Ohio.

Geoff Dabelko, professor and director of the OU Environmental Studies Program, said Ohio doesn’t see the same effects from climate change that coastal regions do.

“Ohio has, in this case, the benefit of not being on the coast,” Dabelko said. 

Areas such as Houston, Texas, which recently experienced the destruction that came along with Hurricane Harvey have not had this same luxury. 

OU professors said Ohio has seen the effects of climate change in the form of warmer temperatures.

Associate Professor of Geography Ryan Fogt said  Ohio has seen a “temperature increase, statewide, by .1 °F per decade since 1895.” 

These warmer temperatures could, eventually, mean that “winters aren’t as cold,” Donald Miles, a professor of biological sciences, said.

These warmer temperatures in the state of Ohio can cause a variety of problems. Miles said the temperatures mean birds are coming early.

Fogt said “in agricultural regions, increased warming challenges crops.” These crops struggle to produce seed. 

Fogt added that rising temperatures are decreasing the success rate of crops. 

That’s more of a problem in states where agriculture is a bigger industry. Climate change will eventually lead even greater impacts in Ohio, including rising temperatures, he said.

“What we are anticipating are even warmer temperatures in Ohio,” Fogt said. 

When it comes to taking precautions to prevent climate change, Dabelko said “we won’t prevent it.” 

The problem currently is that fossils fuels people used decades ago are still heating the atmosphere, he said.

When discussing what precautions should be taken to prevent climate change, Fogts said voters should support candidates who think the same way they do about environmental issues.

“Elect those officials,” he said.

A second way that people could get involved would be to reduce their own environmental footprint.

“Limit driving, reduce electricity, try to carpool, take public transport,” he said.

People can do their part in helping a larger picture – reducing the effect of climate change. Anyone can help reduce the effect of climate change by changing part of their lifestyle. 

“The lush style we live is not compatible,” Dabelko said. 


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