Every presidential election, we’re reminded of Ohio’s status as a bellwether state in nationwide politics. Little doubt we will likely be listening to the phrase “As Ohio goes, so goes the nation” reprised within the coming weeks, as Cleveland hosts the primary presidential debate of 2020 and the candidates proceed to court docket voters throughout the state.
However whereas Ohio could also be a pacesetter in selecting presidents, our state is shamefully in the back of the pack in terms of selecting winners within the power sector. States like Iowa, Oklahoma, Kansas, South Carolina and Texas (all crimson states) — in addition to all of the forward-looking states on the East and West coasts — are aggressively investing in clear power alternatives as a result of they see the super potential for environmental and financial profit. In the meantime, Ohio has made headlines for the corrupt and allegedly prison efforts on the a part of some public sector leaders to cater to particular pursuits and subsidize a declining fossil gasoline trade, footing taxpayers and shoppers with the invoice. It does not should be this fashion. In the course of the power disaster of the Seventies, NASA’s Glenn Analysis Heart in Cleveland was a pacesetter within the U.S. Wind Vitality Program, working to develop turbine know-how that may very well be transferred to non-public trade. Now’s the time to place Ohio again on the map as a pacesetter within the superior power economic system. Our restoration from the present disaster might depend upon it.
Briefly order — and in no unsure phrases — the pandemic has revealed the lethal implications of social determinants of well being. Poverty, publicity to air and water air pollution, lack of entry to well being care and continual underlying well being situations dramatically improve your threat for hospitalization and demise because of COVID-19. Within the metropolis of Cleveland, many residents are topic to all of those threat elements. Whereas Cleveland is house to world-class academic and medical establishments, leisure venues and entry to a dynamic system of Metroparks, it’s also the poorest giant metropolis in the US, edging out Detroit in lately launched information from the U.S. Census Bureau. Cleveland additionally ranks ninth worst within the nation for sooty air air pollution. As a result of legacy of redlining and different racist insurance policies that proceed to have an effect on entry to assets in our metropolis, Black and Latinx residents face a good greater probability of threat elements and have been hit disproportionately arduous by the well being and financial impacts of COVID-19. The pandemic has solely exacerbated the longstanding racial disparities in well being and financial outcomes. If we do not do something to mitigate local weather change, we are able to anticipate pandemics to occur with larger frequency.
Compounding the alarming realities of the COVID-19 pandemic, to not point out its estimated $8 trillion price to the U.S. economic system, pure disasters have gotten extra frequent and intense because of local weather change. Already this yr, communities throughout our nation have been devastated by tornadoes, hurricanes, forest fires, flooding and extra. Setting a brand new document, 2020 marks the sixth consecutive yr with at the least 10 separate billion-dollar pure disasters. Right here in Ohio, we are able to anticipate heavier precipitation and flooding as local weather change progresses, in addition to the continued warming of the Nice Lakes — all of which is able to negatively impression water high quality. Warming water is predicted to create extra poisonous algal blooms and hurt fish, whereas heavier rains will improve the quantity of pollutant runoff into our lake, threatening seaside security and our consuming water provide. Proper now, consultants imagine we’ve got 10 years left to take significant motion. After that, the results of local weather change will likely be catastrophic and tough to comprise.
Once more, it does not should be this fashion. Seen one other approach, we stand on the precipice of an unbelievable alternative: Driving the wave of progress that’s predicted for the superior power sector within the coming years. In New Jersey, the superior power sector is thrashing statewide job progress total, with extra staff in superior power than in resorts, motels and casinos — and practically triple the variety of staff at faculties and universities. We should handle the basis of the issue, and investments in superior power must be a precedence in our method.
Think about a future the place Larger Cleveland and Ohio are acknowledged as a Midwestern hub for the rising superior power trade, the place good jobs that pay family-sustaining wages can be found to individuals of all backgrounds, races and ethnicities — serving to to shut the racial gaps in our neighborhood and permitting extra residents to construct wealth and make investments again into their neighborhoods. Think about a future the place we are able to eat fish from Lake Erie any time we wish, not simply the once-a-week restrict really useful by the Ohio Division of Pure Assets because of excessive mercury ranges within the lake attributable to coal-fired energy vegetation. Think about a future the place the air we breathe and the water we drink does not trigger severe underlying well being situations, lowering total well being care prices and stopping untimely incapacity or demise for a lot of people. This future is feasible if we spend money on the superior power trade and different climate-friendly insurance policies as we speak — each right here in Ohio and throughout the nation.
On this seminal second for our nation — as we take care of a worldwide pandemic, a historic reckoning with systemic racism and an escalating cycle of pure disasters — Northeast Ohio, backed by a provide chain from throughout our whole state, has a possibility to guide from the heartland by making environmental and clear power coverage a spotlight of our restoration technique. On Sept. 29, President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden will take the stage right here in Cleveland for the primary presidential debate of the marketing campaign. In accordance with current reviews, the atmosphere is just not among the many subjects that will likely be lined within the debate questions. That is unlucky. If we had been moderating, there’s one query that we might be sure you ask the candidates: What’s going to you do to advertise a resilient, clear power future right here within the Midwest and throughout the US? The reply issues now greater than ever.
Richard is president and CEO of the Cleveland Basis, and Tramble is president and CEO of the Saint Luke’s Basis.