Olney Friends School was honored at the Climate Change Solutions event located at the Great Lakes Science Center in Cleveland. There were over one hundred guests in attendance, including state officials, the state director for Senator Sherrod Brown, and an expert panel. The Ohio Environmental Council’s Executive Director stated in the opening remarks, “we want to make sure we are thanking Olney Friends School that is here. We really appreciate all the activism the students have already brought to so many of our issues. We really appreciate our partnerships there and I definitely want to pay tribute to these students.”
The students present were members of Olney’s Environmental Science class and the Watershed Endeavor. They were given the opportunity to explore the Science Center after the conference and seemed to enjoy the experience. When asked about the day, one student said he was impressed with being part of such a professional event. He said he had never been in a room with so many professionals and he thought the discussion was very informative.
The Environmental Science class was very fortunate to hear from the following experts on the effects of climate change in Ohio as well as the things we can do to make Ohio a climate leader:
- Andrew Williams (@awill4tmrw), Senior State Regulatory and Legislative Affairs Manager US Climate and Energy, Environmental Defense Fund
- Aparna Bole (@DrAparnaBole), Medical Director of Community Integration and Sustainability Advisor for University Hospital
- David Orr, Counselor to the President at Oberlin College
- Shanelle Smith (@ShanelleLSmith), Deputy Director, Cuyahoga County Department of Sustainability
Here is what was learned at the conference:
- There is a very strong connection between a healthy environment and a healthy economy: Clean air, improved economy, and improved health all go together hand-in-hand.
- Climate change is fundamentally a public health issue, and hospitals have the opportunity to lead by example, for instance, by choosing to purchase food that is locally grown.
- Reducing air pollution is not as expensive as it would seem. For example, it would cost the oil and gas industry just one penny per unit of product to put in controls to rein in air pollution, which is a very small price for such a big impact.
- Methane is 80x as caustic as carbon. If we want to slow down climate change we need the federal government to move forward on existing source methane standards.
- We aren’t saving on costs by delaying the transition to a clean energy economy as we are already paying for the negative effects of climate change on human health and the environment.
- Cuyahoga County is already working towards sustainability in all systems, and setting an example as regional climate leaders in the state of Ohio.
- Clean energy has the potential to bring many jobs to Ohio as Ohio already manufactures or has the capability to manufacture many of the materials needed for building and maintaining wind turbines and solar panels.
- All four panelists agreed that while Ohio is currently lagging in our efforts to improve our air quality, emissions standards, and transition to a clean energy economy, the good news is that we have the “building blocks” and real potential in Ohio to lead on climate change action.