Shared from the 3/26/2019 Sandusky Register eEdition

GREAT LAKES

Climate change impacts region

SANDUSKY

People who live near the Great Lakes don’t have to wait to see the effects of climate change. It’s already happening, and there’s more to come, according to a new report.

The effects of a warming climate include hotter temperatures, more rain and more extreme storms, according to “An Assessment of the Impacts of Climate Change on the Great Lakes,” a report released by the Environmental Law and Policy Center.

The report lists 18 scholars from the region as authors, including two from Ohio State University: Brent Sohngen, professor of environmental and resource economics, and Robyn Wilson, an associate professor of risk analysis and decision science.

The claims made in the report include the following: n Between 1901-1960 and 1985-2016, the Great Lakes basin has warmed 1.6 degrees Fahrenheit in annual mean temperature, exceeding average changes of 1.2 degrees Fahrenheit for the 48 states excluding Alaska and Hawaii. n Annual precipitation increased 4 percent in the U.S. from 1901 to 2015, but jumped almost 10 percent during the same time period in the Great Lakes, with much of the increased rain coming in big storms. n Intense summer storms occur more often as temperatures rise, and extremely warm day, above 90 degrees), are expected to increase. n The increase of intense storms with a lot of rain will put more pressure on sewer systems and cause more sewer overflows. Heavy storms also cause more farm runoff, feeding harmful algal blooms. n Warmer water increased bacteria levels in the Great Lakes. As the bacteria count rises, beaches could be closed more often. The Environmental Law & Policy Center says ways to address these changes include the following: n Moving away from greenhouse gases and increasing the use of solar power, wind power and electric vehicles, with a stronger emphasis on public transit. n Reducing agricultural runoff of phosphorus that feeds harmful algal blooms, caused by manure and excessive use of fertilizer. n Building green infrastructure, such as wetlands and permeable pavement, to reduce the effects of runoff. n Supporting increased federal funding for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, which the Obama administration sought to cut and the Trump administration has tried to virtually eliminate. Copies of the report and more information is available at elpc.org/glclimatechange/. The group putting out the report has been active in court battles involving Lake Erie. Joined by Toledo activists, the Environmental Law & Policy Center filed a federal lawsuit in Toledo in 2017, forcing the U.S. EPA to admit all of the waters of western Lake Erie are “impaired” under the definition of the Clean Water Act. The group filed another lawsuit against the U.S. EPA in February, demanding the U.S. EPA take further action under the Clean Water Act to reduce pollution in Lake Erie and deal with harmful algal blooms.

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