Cash-strapped cities and towns in Ohio will need to find billions more a year to keep pace as the challenges of climate change intensify over the next few decades, according to a new analysis.
Climate deniers have long ignored the overwhelming scientific consensus around global warming. It got a little complicated last year when the Last year, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change analyzed 14,000 studies and concluded that human activity is causing global warming and that we are doomed to see it get worse over the next 30 years.
And the warming has taken a more visceral turn over the past week, with 100 million Americans under heat warningcentral england smashing heat records after 250 years of record keepingand like much of the rest of the northern hemisphere is also sizzling.
Of course, hot summers are not the only consequence of climate change. Rising average global temperatures are having many impacts and cities, including those in Ohio, are having to deal with them.
“Communities across Ohio have been dealing with rising temperatures, flooding, erosion and climate-related extreme weather events for years,” said the report by the Ohio Environmental Council, Power a Clean Future Ohio and Scioto Analysis which was released Wednesday.
He added: “This climate damage is only expected to intensify in the coming decades, generating new costs associated with recovering from and adapting to climate-related disasters, as well as major pressure on already overburdened taxpayers. and cash-strapped local governments. Unless we see drastic changes at all levels of government to tackle carbon emissions over the next few years, these impacts will only get worse – and the cost to address them will skyrocket.
The report reviewed available literature on climate-related phenomena such as more intense rainfall, worse algal blooms, and more and hotter days. Then he applied them to cities in Ohio to estimate what adapting to the phenomenon will cost annually by 2050.
The estimate: at least $1.8 billion to $5.9 billion per year in 2021 dollars.
“This represents a 26% to 82% increase in current spending levels for environmental and housing programs by local governments in Ohio over 2019, for just 10 of the 50 identified climate impacts in Ohio,” says The report. “Policymakers should be aware that these costs will not appear instantly in the middle of the century, but in most cases they will begin to accumulate during this decade and increase steadily until they reach the estimates. planned for mid-century.”
Some of the increased expenses Ohio communities will face if global temperatures rise 2-3 degrees Celsius by 2100:
More air conditioners in schools, operating more cooling centers and paying more electricity – Currently, the typical school district installs air conditioning when there are at least 32 school days where temperatures exceed 80 degrees F. By 2025, school districts across the state are expected to have 36 to 46 school days of school per year, according to the report, and the number will continue to rise from there.
By 2050, installing air conditioners where they are needed in poor urban neighborhoods in cities like Cincinnati, Columbus, Cleveland, Akron, Dayton and Toledo is expected to cost between $41 million and $200 million, according to the report.
In addition to these costs, local governments will be called upon to open cooling centers more often for people without air conditioning, and they will have to pay more for electricity to keep these and other government buildings cool. Wednesday’s report estimates that this will result in tens of millions of additional annual expenses for local governments.
road repair — Extreme heat, rapid freeze-thaw cycles and more intense storms all damage roads. The report estimates that this additional maintenance will cost between $170 million and $1 billion per year.
And that’s additional damage to roads that are already in poor condition.
“In 2021, roads in Ohio received a ‘D’ grade from the American Society for Civil Engineers,” Wednesday’s report said. “The scorecard also notes that 17% of Ohio’s roads are in poor condition and the average motorist in Ohio pays $500 more per year in fees due to driving on damaged roads.”
According to the report, local governments would need to spend more than $3.2 billion per year by 2030 just to catch up on deferred maintenance projects and begin meeting future maintenance needs.
Protect drinking water — Algal blooms are introducing toxins to important Ohio drinking water sources, especially Lake Erie. Global warming exacerbates these blooms in at least two ways: It causes more intense storms that drive more fertilizer into the water, which, because it’s warmer, promotes algae growth.
Waterfront cities such as Toledo, Sandusky, Lorain and Cleveland will have to pay an additional $580 million to $2.2 billion per year by 2050 to protect their water supply, the report said.
Stormwater management — As anyone who has experienced severe flooding can attest, flooding can cause enormous damage, disruption and threaten people’s lives and health. The report estimates that municipalities in Ohio will need to spend an additional $140 million to $150 million per year by 2050 to upgrade their systems to cope with more and more intense storms brought on by climate change.
The analysis points to many other areas where costs are expected to rise – and raises the question of who should pay for them.
“Instead of relying on taxpayers to bear these costs, policymakers could consider alternative sources of funding, such as holding accountable the companies most responsible for causing and worsening climate change, and ensuring that they pay their fair share of the costs of adaptation and resilience, just as many communities in Ohio have held opioid manufacturers accountable for the costs of the opioid crisis,” he said.
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