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Can You Imagine a World Where Today’s Heat is the Norm?

Yesterday, the average temperature in Columbus, Ohio was 94 degrees Fahrenheit. Today, the average is 98 degrees and tomorrow’s temperature is predicted to be the same. Ohio has always experienced heat waves, but they’re happening more frequently. The cause spikes in energy costs as everyone turns on their air conditioning, and they exacerbate asthma and other air quality related medical conditions. 

Yet, can you imagine a world where an average of 95 or 100 degrees Fahrenheit is the norm for more than a month? What about two months? 

On July 16, the Union of Concerned Scientists released a report detailing the expected average temperatures for every state in the United States by 2050 and 2100. Their calculations depend on whether we successfully transition to a clean energy future and reduce carbon and other air pollution from causing climate change. The message is clear: if we don’t stop climate change, Ohioans will suffer. 

According to the study, each year Ohioans experience seventeen days on average with a heat index over 90 degrees Fahrenheit. Ninety degrees is important because it’s the “worker safety threshold.” By 2050, just 31 years from now, Ohio will experience 60 days over 90 degrees — two whole months.

It gets worse. The study notes that each year, Ohio experiences (on average) one day with a heat index over 100 degrees Fahrenheit. By 2050, Ohio will experience 22 such days in addition to more than ten days clocking in at over 105 degrees Fahrenheit. 

With increased temperatures comes additional poor air quality days, which impact the health of children and adults with asthma. Increased temperatures raise energy and water bills, and threaten individuals susceptible to heat stroke, especially the elderly. 

The findings of the Union of Concerned Scientists don’t describe a world far in the future. Children born this year will be entering their early thirties in 2050. They’ll be born in a year with 17 days over 90 degrees Fahrenheit and by the time some will be raising families of their own, nearly every day each summer will be over 90 in Ohio. For those who work outside every day (think farmers and construction workers) to provide for themselves and their families, it will be incredibly dangerous to do their jobs. 

All Ohioans deserve a healthier world and a stable climate, where we can breathe clean air and live comfortably. We can avoid these heat waves if Ohio and the United States pursue a clean energy future. If Ohio and our nation pursues smart policy now like supporting solar and wind energy, we can limit future warming, and Ohioans can avoid most of the predicted extreme heat conditions.

At the Ohio Environmental Council, we advocate for clean energy for all because we’re committed to an Ohio where everyone enjoys healthy air, a safe climate, and drinkable water. Together, we can avoid a world where Ohio experiences hotter and hotter temperatures every summer. We hope you’ll join us in fighting for climate action and a healthier, equitable future for all.