Warming Planet Needs Wetlands

The following article appeared in Chagrin Valley Today, the website of the Chagrin Valley Times on April 6, 2016. Thanks to the Chagrin Valley Times for giving us permission to republish the article here.


Chagrin Valley Times

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Independent analyses by NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration found that 2015 was by far the hottest year on record globally, eclipsing the previous record of one year earlier by 0.23 degree Fahrenheit. Fifteen of the 16 warmest years on record have occurred since 2001. And on March 12, NASA confirmed that this February was the warmest month ever since global recording began 135 years ago.

As reported by the Earth Environmental Service, “The past year has seen the greatest level of ocean warming on record and the most extensive melting of winter sea ice in the Arctic.” Furthermore, according to David Carlson, of the World Meteorological Organization, “The startlingly high temperatures so far in 2016 have sent shockwaves around the climate-science community.”

The impact on extreme weather events is becoming more clear. “The question is not whether global warming caused Hurricane Sandy but rather how much stronger it was because of global warming,” said Oregon State University climatologist Philip Mote, co-author of a new report from the U.S. National Research Council.

Last week the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio approved a sweetheart deal for electricity consumers to subsidize First Energy’s obsolete Sammis power plant and other coal-fired plants that spew carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, trapping the heat radiating from Earth.

It’s enough to make the average citizen who cannot afford to ply politicians with lobbyists and cash to throw up her arms in futility.

But people can make a difference, according to Ray Stewart, of the Ohio Wetlands Association, who spoke at a recent forum sponsored by Protect Geauga Parks at Bainbridge Town Hall. “Wetlands are the most productive systems in the world, and they are able to use photosynthesis to consume carbon dioxide and keep it out of the atmosphere for thousands of years,” Mr. Stewart said.

Bainbridge Township, which willingly sacrificed some of the highest-quality wetlands, as determined by the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency, for the development of big-box stores in 2001, is a fitting place to make that case.

So is Geauga County, which Mr. Stewart called an “epicenter of high-quality wetlands in Ohio.” Wetlands provide many benefits, he said, including cost-effective flood management, biodiverse animal habitat, filtering of such harmful substances as phosphorous and nitrogen and, very critically, replenishment of ground-water resources.

Ohio has lost 90 percent of its wetlands, Mr. Stewart said, and property owners are losing ground water throughout the Midwest.

Through a contract with Geauga County Commissioners, the U.S. Geological Survey has provided the county with crucial well-water monitoring for the past 20 years. But in a brazen act of irresponsibility, that contract has been allowed to expire.

Categories: News

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