COLUMBUS, Ohio - As summertime begins to wind down, a new report outlines how climate change is putting a damper on many of the popular summer experiences enjoyed by Ohioans.
The research released today by the National Wildlife Federation found that excessive heat, toxic algae and increases in ticks, mosquitoes and noxious weeds are disrupting swimming, fishing, hiking, camping and other favorite outdoor activities.
Frank Szollosi, manager of the federation's Great Lakes Outreach Campaign, said the changing climate is even impacting America's favorite pastime.
"In some parks, the humidity and the heat means more home runs," he said. "While that's great for the fans and for the batters, I'm certain the pitchers don't like pitching in conditions that make it more conducive to the long ball."
He said heavy rainfall and other extreme weather events caused a record number of postponed Major League Baseball games this season. Popular vacation spots also are threatened by the warming climate, as the report notes sea-level rise, flooding and more severe and frequent storms are hurting beach quality. In Florida alone, nearly half the state's beaches are seeing critical erosion.
Excessive heat in summer months also is a burden on Ohioans, said Szollosi, especially those who have health conditions or struggle to afford air conditioning.
"It puts their health at risk," he said, "or they have to make some decisions about, 'Do we pay the electric bill, or pay the rent or buy food?' These are the types of real-world impacts that people need to understand."
Retired National Wildlife Federation senior scientist Doug Inkley said there are solutions to address these problems and ensure safer summers for the future.
"We not just can reduce our dependence on fossil fuels, but we have the means to actually use alternative energy sources," he said. "Now's the time; the sooner we do it, the better. If we wait too long, it's going to be much, much harder to do and the impacts of climate change are going to be much greater on all of us."
The report recommended policies that cut pollution from power plants, reduce vehicle emissions, expand renewable energy and reduce methane pollution from the oil and gas industry.
The report is online at nwf.org/summer.