CLEVELAND — How much is climate change hurting the health of our children in Ohio?
A new report by Cleveland-based research group Policy Matters Ohio details the impacts extreme heatwaves, increased precipitation and poor air quality have on children's health. The report also outlines solutions.
“What I want to emphasize is that we can do a lot to address these problems,” said Amy Hanauer, executive director at Policy Matters Ohio. “We can put in place a lot of policies. Other states are doing it and it’s time for Ohio to catch up.”
Hanauer said it’s important for people to demand action from state lawmakers.
“This state legislature has been going in the wrong direction, kind of encouraging the use of inefficient forms of energy that are very polluting. Instead, we need to get back to investing in wind and solar and conservation,” Hanauer said.
Other changes, she said, include building more energy-efficient homes, retrofitting older homes and public buildings to be energy-efficient, increasing mass transit to cut back on driving, and investing in wind and solar energy.
Dr. Aparna Bole is a pediatrician at Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital.
She said it is important for parents to understand the very real impacts of climate change on kids.
“When we think about climate change, it shouldn’t be sort of an abstract thing that may affect someone else, somewhere else, at some other time. It’s already affecting our children right here in Cleveland,” Bole said.
She said she has seen trends that point to increased issues with children’s asthma and chronic breathing conditions in Northeast Ohio. Allergy seasons are also becoming longer and more severe.
Due to higher levels of ozone on the surface, Bole said the air quality in Northeast Ohio takes a hit.
That poor air quality and particulate matter also has a huge impact on premature births, low birth weight, childhood development, allergies and asthma, Bole said.
The World Health Organization estimates 80% of health impacts of climate change affect children under the age of five, so children are unique vulnerable, Bole said.
But, she believes Cleveland and Ohio’s positive track record in rectifying environmental issues is a good sign.
“I’m just really hopeful and optimistic, I think Ohio can lead the way just as it always has done since the inception of the environmental movement,” Bole said. “And I think we are so well positioned to be leaders when it comes to clean energy, healthy cities, and climate action.”
You can read the full report by clicking here.