Columbus, Ohio –All 88 counties in Ohio have been impacted recently by weather-related disasters, including Hurricane Sandy, according to a new interactive map using data from the Federal Emergency Management Administration. Scientists say global warming is exacerbating some extreme weather events and their impacts.
“We used to think of climate change as problem that would happen someday, somewhere,” said Sam Gerard from Environment Ohio. “But as this map helps demonstrate, global warming is happening now, and it’s hitting all too close to home.”
Environment Ohio researchers, who created the online map, found FEMA declared disasters related to severe storms or floods in all 88 of the state’s counties between 2010 and 2014. Scientists predict unchecked global warming will increase the frequency, severity and the catastrophic impacts of future storms of a caliber potentially worse than Superstorm Sandy was.
“If carbon emissions persist at the current levels, by the end of the 21st century Ohio will experience a 5-20% increase in mean annual precipitation,” Dr. Alvaro Montenegro, geography professor at OSU, explained, “This will be more than compensated by the projected increase in evaporation, leading to a decrease in soil moisture, exacerbating the negative impacts on agriculture of dry spells, which will be on average five days longer than those we experience of today.”
The map reveals that nationwide, more than 40 million Americans live in counties that were affected by more than five weather disasters over the last five years, while 3,004 counties housing 96 percent of the population experienced declared disasters at least once.
The analysis comes as the Clean Power Plan, the first-ever limits on carbon pollution, enters the Federal Register and is now under a lot of attacks in Congress. Environment Ohio says that they’re calling on Senator Sherrod Brown to continue his climate leadership and defend the Clean Power Plan against those attacks this fall.
It also comes just weeks before world leaders convene in Paris to reach an international agreement to slash global warming emissions.
Since the pre-industrial era, average global temperature has increased by nearly a degree Celsius, and climate scientists view another degree increase as untenable, leading to increasingly extreme weather events that will make parts of the world uninhabitable.
“To avoid even more dangerous climate impacts,” said Gerard, “we need our leaders like Senator Brown to act boldly to slash carbon pollution and transition to 100 percent clean renewable energy.”