HUDSON – Is the weather changing for a reason?
The Climate Reality Project, Renewable Hudson and GoGreenGo.org will host a climate change presentation, "Climate Change: Why Should Ohio Care?" April 5 at 7 p.m. at the Hudson Library and Historical Society, presented by Hudson residents Eric Hancsak and Ken Nadsady.
The two are Climate Reality Leaders trained by former Vice President Al Gore and The Climate Reality Project.
Also presenting will be Capt. Steve Brock, U.S. Navy (ret.), a Hudson native and graduate of both Hudson High School and the U.S. Naval Academy who has spent a career in intelligence and national security policy at the Pentagon, State Department, fleet staffs, forward deployed and at the White House as a director on the National Security Council.
He will speak on national security and military readiness as they relate to climate change.
Hancsak said "climate change primarily refers to the overall warming of the planet’s atmosphere and resulting effects on climate patterns."
The primary cause of climate change, he explained, is through the "greenhouse effect," in which high concentrations of greenhouse gases such as methane and carbon dioxide trap excess heat and warm the temperature of the planet, he said.
"This warming causes accelerated melting and shrinking of the polar ice caps, which are crucial to reflecting sunlight back into space," Hancsak said. "Massive deforestation is also a cause. Trees and forests are essential tools for drawing CO2 out of the atmosphere."
Globally, Hancsak said people can see the major impacts of climate change, including rising sea levels (Miami, Norfolk), persistent severe weather patterns, mega storms (Harvey, Irma, Maria), drought, massive wildfires (California, Washington state and Oregon), water shortages (Cape Town, South Africa), refugee crises (Puerto Rico) and other areas across the globe.
The cleanup, rebuilding and preparation costs due to these disasters are also costly. In 2016, global weather disasters caused losses totaling more than $175 billion, according to the project. In 2017, Hurricanes Harvey, Maria and Irma alone cost more than $265 billion.
"Ohio’s climate naturally varies greatly, so quantifying the results of climate change here can be difficult for some to see," Hancsak said.
But Ohioans should care, he says, because the average daily temperature has gone up over the last century; average annual precipitation has gone up as much as 10 percent in the Midwest; increased flooding; increased water pollution; higher risk of algal blooms affecting drinking water; temperature changes affect crop yields; and the impact on Lake Erie which is one of the most plentiful freshwater resources in the country.
Residents can make a lifestyle choice to combat climate change, Hancsak noted.
People can examine their energy usage, and Hancsak himself says he has invested in a high-efficiency furnace and signed up for the EcoSmart Choice Energy program through Hudson Public Power to bring more renewable energy into his grid.
Other eco-friendly habits include keeping the temperature in the house cool at 68 degrees during winter, and using the air conditioner only when the temperature rises over 85 degrees in the summer.
People can buy a hybrid car or use their car less and walk or ride a bike more; install LED lights and turn off lights and devices when not in use. Outside, they can add a rain barrel, compost piles and grow a garden. In addition, residents can install solar panels.
The United States — which last year withdrew from the Paris Agreement on climate change — is the second highest producing country of greenhouse gasses, with China in the lead and India third.
"But with exception of our country, the governments of all those countries are taking climate change seriously and investing in solutions," Hancsek said. "But at the end of the day, renewable energy technologies, solar, wind, hydro, geothermal, are inevitable. Costs of those technologies are plummeting, while job demand is skyrocketing. We don’t use typewriters or outhouses anymore for a reason."
Ohio has meager renewable energy standards as compared to neighbors. The state goal is to have 12.5 percent renewable energy in our grid by 2027, while at least 15 states have twice that or better, and are working to strengthen their renewable standards, Hancsak said. Additionally, more than 50 cities and 200 mayors around the country have pledged to go 100 percent renewable, with more joining all the time.
The Leadership Hudson class of 2014 raised funds to place solar panels on the roof off the Barlow Community Center as part of a renewable energy project. The facility features a photovoltaic system of converting solar energy into electricity. Real time data collected from the solar panels can be viewed by visitors to the building and on the city’s website at www.hudson.oh.us.
The city of Hudson is analyzing the possibility of a solar panel park on 15 to 20 acres of city-owned property that would provide power savings for the city and Hudson Public Power customers.
The Climate Reality Project’s mission is to catalyze a global solution to the climate crisis by making urgent action a necessity across every level of society. Renewable Hudson is a social media effort (@RenewableHudson) aimed at promoting renewable energy and environmental awareness in Hudson. The GoGreenGo.org mission is to turn environmental awareness into action by connecting citizens with regional organizations that match their interests.
Reporter Laura Freeman can be reached at 330-541-9434or email@example.com