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July 3, 2014

Urban Affairs holds forum on climate change

By Timothy Simko

On June 23, the Maxine Goodman Levin College of Urban Affairs held a forum on climate preparedness and resilience in the Roberta Steinbacher Atrium.

Ned Hill, the dean of the College of Urban Affairs welcomed all in attendance as he introduced the panel.

He introduced Provost Deirdre Mageean and the four panelists including Paula Brooks, Ohio’s only member on the White House State Task Force on Climate Preparedness and Resilience.

After welcoming the panel and all in attendance, Hill introduced Dr. Deirdre Mageean, the provost and senior vice president for academic affairs.

Provost Mageean welcomed Brooks to Cleveland State University as she briefly discussed that the topic that would be covered concerned climate change. She then turned the panel over to Brooks.

Brooks gave an overview of the discussion. She began to explain that her discussion would concern climate impacts.

She said that she feels it is a tremendous responsibility to be the only Ohioan on the task force and how the discussion with the panelists and the audience will help her seek input on what can be done to help.

Brooks said that they are seeking input on helping remove the federal barriers without congressional actions or additional tax dollars.

The panel was turned over to Wendy Kellogg, professor of Urban Planning and Environmental Studies. Kellogg said that she believes that the main goal should be to use less and to produce less. She also said her belief in the value of the Great Lakes.

“I think the number one priority in my mind is to make sure the Great Lakes are preserved at a national level,” she said.

She also said they should work with the Great Lakes states, and how the abundance of water around those areas is undervalued. Kellogg said we should reduce the amount of water we use in order to better preserve our resources.

“The most secure water source is the one we don’t need,” she said.

Kellogg also encouraged redevelopment into a green infrastructure and more collaboration. She emphasized that the states should also have to update their water management plans citing that Ohio has not updated their plan since the 1980s.

The discussion was then turned over to David Beach, the director of the Green City Blue Lake Institute at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History. He began by quoting a headline in The Onion, “Ocean Levels Could Rise Foot Or More If Lots Of People Go Swimming.”

While the headline itself was a joke, Beach said that we, as a nation, should take this problem more seriously.

“We believe that science is telling us that this is the challenge of our times,” he said.
Beach said that we should not heavily rely on energy while trying to convert to “idealistic, low consumption lifestyles.”

According to Beach, this is how the nation can create a more sustainable world.
Bill Bowen, a professor of public administration and urban studies, started off his discussion by explaining that he would clear up some of the complicated terminology used by members of the panel.

Bowen said that the Supreme Court validated the Environmental Protection Agency’s plans to regulate greenhouse-gas emissions from power plants and factories but also that the agency had gone too far with its power. He also said that this forbade the EPA from identifying greenhouse gases as a pollutant.

Bowen then began explaining how Ohio is a coal based state. Citing that it is a reliable cheap and abundant resource.

“It’s a great source except one thing,” he said. “It’s dirty, produces greenhouse gases and is harmful to the environment.”

He explained that he believes the ideals of energy in Ohio lack behind the ecology of Ohio.

“As long as we hang onto them [ideals] we will not be able to help global climate change,” he said.

Maureen Mitchell, an assistant professor and graduate program director for the school of nursing, then began to discuss the extreme changes in climate, citing the recent heat waves as well as the polar vortex in January.

She explained that there is a vulnerable population of people consisting of the elderly and those with special needs that need assistance in these types of conditions. She explained that there are no plans in place before these events happen and that the systems should be enhanced to accommodate those in need.