Changing climate might take buckeyes out of Ohio


If humans allow greenhouse gases to escape unchecked into the Earth’s atmosphere, Ohio might have to change its nickname.

“The habitat of the Ohio buckeye (tree) will move to Michigan,” because of a warming planet, said David Carpenter, a member of the Delaware chapter of the Citizens’ Climate Lobby and a retired physics teacher at Rutherford B. Hayes High School.

Carpenter and three other members of the climate lobby on Friday spoke to residents at the William Street United Methodist Church as part of the Delaware 2016 Great Decisions Community Discussion program created by the New York City-based Foreign Policy Association. The free discussion series has been a national tradition since the 1954 and an annual Delaware feature since the 1970s.

Carpenter told the noontime group of about 75 residents he will also present a public information program at 7 p.m. April 6 at the Mingo Park Hilborn Room to gauge interest for creation of a Delaware County Solar Cooperative.

Carpenter said he solarized his residence a decade ago, which generates about 6 megawatt hours of electricity annually.

Other speakers included Rich Bradley, a retired Ohio State University biology professor, who talked about the effects of global warming on health and agriculture.

Heat is the leading weather-related killer in the United States, he said.

Increasing amounts of carbon dioxide in the Earth’s atmosphere are also causing a shift in habitats of certain animal species from south to north, he said.

“We are seeing certain spiders moving into Ohio that we haven’t seen before,” he said.

“We will be more exposed to disease as mosquito species move into Ohio, “ he said.

A mosquito species known Aedes Aegypti, is a tropical insect now in the United States and moving north, he said.

The mosquito is known to transmit the Zika virus, which poses health risks to pregnant women, National Public Radio has reported.

Alice Frazier, a retired doctor, reviewed the historic global climate agreement reached in Paris in December where 195 countries agreed to reduce greenhouse gases with a key goal to curtail atmospheric warming to no more than an additional 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit.

In the United States, the U.S Supreme Court last month put on hold enforcement by the U.S. Environmental Agency of its Clean Power Plan, which would help President Obama achieve a national goal of reducing carbon dioxide emissions by 26 to 28 percent by 2030, the Associated Press reported.

The Supreme Court issued its 5-4 decision in a case involving 29 states and state agencies, including Ohio, that are challenging the EPA guidelines in federal court filings as “most far reaching and burdensome rule EPA has ever forced onto the states.”

Marianne Gabel, a retired Delaware lawyer, said a key solution to slow global warming and advocated by the Citizens’ Climate Lobby is enactment of a revenue neutral carbon fee on fossil fuels in which households would receive a dividend.

An example of how such a fee would work, Gabel said, would be to implement a $15-per-ton fee on fossil carbon dioxide emissions at the point where the fuel enters the market and then increase the fee annually in $10 increments. The revenue collected would be returned to households on an equal basis.

Gabel said such a carbon-tax plan was implemented in British Columbia in 2008, the first such carbon tax in North America. The Canadian province, in turn, recycles the tax back to consumers through tax cuts and other credits.

The Citizens’ Climate Lobby, which comprises six chapters in Ohio, often lobbies Congress on environmental issues, and has made one of its key missions to pitch carbon fee and dividend legislation, according to Gabel.

“The time has past when climate change should be a partisan issue,” Gabel said.

GREAT DECISIONS

By Frank Hinchey

For The Gazette

Frank Hinchey is a retired journalist.