central ohio climate change feature

A task force at Ohio State has released its years-long work for public feedback: a draft action plan to help central Ohio combat the issues that accompany climate change.

This plan, compiled by researchers at Ohio State’s Byrd Polar and Climate Research Center (BPCRC), offers recommendations for climate change effects such as extreme heat, deteriorating air quality, flooding and varied water quality.

More than 75 researchers and stakeholders are involved in the compilation of data and creation of the document. In addition to its publication, the task force has invited the public to review and comment on the plan, hoping to draw in commentary and concepts from all individuals.

“We’ve tried to make it as easy as possible so there are videos that explain how to follow through with reading and posting comments,” said Jason Cervenec, BPCRC’s education and outreach director and chair of the task force.

“We are trying to treat this not as a voting process, but a way to get more expertise, information comments, and concerns about things we have maybe overlooked,” Cervenec said.

It was important to the task force to not only assess the risks and impact of climate change by involving stakeholders, but also by including the general public, said Aaron Wilson, a BPCRC senior research associate.

“We wanted the public to chime in on areas of expertise we may not have been keen to,” Wilson said, “like how they have been affected with their livelihoods and their businesses, so we can incorporate that information into the final draft.”

The task force will meet again after the window for feedback closes March 9 to sift through the comments and shape the final draft.

Jason Cervenec, Byrd Polar Research Center’s education and outreach director and chair of the Climate Change Task Force drafting Central Ohio’s action plan for climate change. Credit: Courtesy of OSU

The average annual temperatures in Columbus have risen by a staggering 2.3 degrees Fahrenheit since 1951 — a number that tops national and global average increases — according to previous BPCRC research.

Despite many other cities having already developed similar plans for Ohio and the U.S., the task force believes their plan might be one of the most comprehensive in the Midwest, Cervenec said.

“To make the best use of our resources and address the critical needs of Columbus, we really wanted to do the foundational things first so our plan addresses the right risks for our community,” Cervenec said. “I expect that this document will end up serving as an example to other communities, not just Columbus.”

The task force hopes the action plan will provide a starting point for the city to begin working toward climate change solutions, Wilson said.

“We want to stir the conversation about collectively what can we do as a city to help raise the adaptive capacity of Columbus, Ohio. I’m proud of the work we’ve done and we’re hoping to get good feedback from the public,” he said.

To view the draft action plan and provide feedback visit https://bpcrc.osu.edu/columbus until March 9.