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Report: Climate Change Causing a Crisis for Wildlife in Ohio
Latest
Wednesday, January 30, 2013 3:31 PM

By Mary Kuhlman • Ohio News Connection

COLUMBUS – The writing is on the wall when it comes to the impact of climate change on wildlife in the Buckeye State, according to www.nwf.org/climatecrisis.a new report.

Research from the National Wildlife Federation finds that rising water levels and increasing water temperatures in Lake Erie are among the events caused by global warming and are altering the wildlife habitat in Ohio.

Dr. Amanda Staudt, a senior scientist for the federation, says rising temperatures also mean more heavy rainfall events in the region.

"One thing that happens is we get a lot more runoff into our rivers and streams that can then run off into the Great Lakes," Staudt says, "and that brings pollutants and nutrients, and contaminants and sediment into those lakes as well."

Heavy rain is also contributing to harmful algae blooms in Lake Erie and causing oxygen-depleted "dead zones," Staudt says. She says policies are needed quickly to confront these threats. Suggestions in the report include a goal to cut carbon pollution by 50 percent by 2030, transitioning to cleaner energy sources and state-level energy-efficiency standards to help reduce harmful emissions.

The report recommends promoting climate-smart approaches to conservation and helping communities prepare for and respond to the effects of climate change. Staudt says these types of efforts already are under way in Ohio, such as the work to restore the Black River in Lorain.

"We're taking account of the fact that there are going to be heavier rainfall events and more flooding, and building that into our conservation plans to ensure that fish and other wildlife that depend on that river will be able to survive," Staudt says.

She says there are many practical options to help communities become more resilient in the face of a changing climate.

"Putting in bigger culverts, or taking advantage of our flood plains and building healthier flood plains to absorb flood waters," she says. "Other options include things like planting more trees, and using green roofs that can help keep our cities cooler during heat waves."

The full report is online at www.nwf.org/climatecrisis.