Columbus, OHIO –One hundred percent of Ohioans live in counties affected recently by weather-related disasters, including extreme flooding that the area is unequipped to handle, according to an interactive, online map released today that crunches data from the federal government. Scientists say global warming is already exacerbating some extreme weather events and their impacts.
“From massive floods to severe storms, dangerous weather is already hitting close to home,” said Sam Gerard with Environment Ohio. “And without action to stop climate change, scientists say these extremes—and their impact on Ohioans—will only get worse.”
Environment Ohio researchers, who created the online map, Hitting Close to Home, found that severe storms in April 2015 raged across the Ohio Valley and caused $1 billion in regional damages and caused two deaths.
Scientists predict unchecked global warming will increase the severity or the frequency of many extreme weather events. Hurricanes, like Superstorm Sandy, for example, are likely to be more powerful and deliver more rainfall because of warmer temperatures. The likelihood of Ohio, which is 450 miles inland, seeing more storms like Sandy, is high.
In addition to statistics for recent weather-related disasters, the map includes case studies and personal stories from Americans impacted by extreme weather events across the country, including Ohioans.
“Whether Ohioans be affected by tropical storms in the Southeast or extreme droughts in the Southwest and across the plains, I didn't think that extreme weather could hit us up here in Ohio. I was wrong” says Josie Cruea, a student at Ohio State University who has lived in Ohio her whole life, “I want to live in an Ohio where the weather doesn't always serve us a curveball, and where we can be confident in our ability to handle weather, and avert as many natural disasters as we can.”
“Extreme weather has played an unexpected havoc on the state of Ohio” State Representative Dan Ramos, commented, “Severe flooding and strong storms have hit Ohio in unprecedented ways.”
The map reveals that nationwide, more than 57 million Americans live in counties that were affected by more than five weather disasters over the last five years, while counties housing 97 percent of the population experienced declared disasters at least once.
The analysis comes in the wake of the Supreme Court’s stay of the Clean Power Plan, the first-ever limits on carbon pollution from power plants that also incentivize the development of wind, solar, and other forms of clean energy. Ohio has said it will halt implementation of the Clean Power Plan because of the stay.
“Ultimately, we’re confident that the Clean Power Plan will survive polluter attacks in the courts,” said Gerard. “But in the meantime, we should be moving forward with clean energy solutions – for the sake our climate, our air, and our health – just as Senator Brown is attempting to do in Washington D.C.”
Since the pre-industrial era, average global temperature has increased by nearly a degree Celsius. In December, nearly 200 nations reached a global accord to limit warming to no more than another degree – a benchmark scientists say is critical to avert even more severe and frequent weather disasters.
“To meet our commitment in Paris and avoid the most dangerous climate impacts,” concluded Gerard, “ultimately we need to transition to 100 percent clean, renewable energy.”
Environment Ohio is a statewide, citizen funded advocacy organization working for a cleaner, greener, healthier future. www.EnvironmentOhio.org