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Published: 12/18/2008

Climate battle starts in Ohio, report asserts

BY TOM HENRY
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Toledo and other parts of Ohio are poised to benefit if President-elect Barack Obama stands by his campaign promise to jump-start U.S. efforts on climate change, a number of activists and researchers said at separate news conferences across the state yesterday.

"If we do nothing, we're putting major elements of our economy at risk," LuCinda Hohmann, Environment Ohio field organizer, said at a presentation with two other speakers in Government Center in downtown Toledo. "It's really important that Ohio transitions itself to being a leader of the solutions."

The environmental group organized the news conferences to roll out its Ohio-centric report, one that synthesizes and updates modeling that a num-ber of scientists have made in recent years to help localize the global issue.

Ohio stands to lose billions of dollars in crop damage, shipping, fishing, forestry, boating, and popular forms of Lake Erie ecotourism, such as birding.

In addition to higher costs for consumer goods, health costs would rise if a warmer climate results in more West Nile virus and if the resulting higher air-pollutant levels trigger more cases of asthma and other respiratory ailments. And more algae is predicted for western Lake Erie, depleting oxygen from the water for fish while driving down property values.

People in farm-rich and industry-heavy northwest Ohio may not realize that a third of the state is still forested. A warmer year-round climate "threatens to reshape Ohio's forest-related economy in ways we cannot imagine," David Maywhoor, Buckeye Forest Council executive director, said.

Ohio has a $15 billion timber industry that employs 119,000 people. State forests also are a huge component of the recreation industry, he said.

"This is a quality-of-life issue," Kevin Egan, a University of Toledo assistant professor of environmental economics, said.

Toledo could become a leader by building upon its research and development in solar energy, he said.

Coal-fired power plants are the largest single source of carbon dioxide, the chief greenhouse gas attributed to rises in the Earth's warming climate.

Ohio gets nearly 90 percent of its electricity from such facilities, making it the nation's fourth largest emitter.

Contact Tom Henry at:

thenry@theblade.com

or 419-724-6079.



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