League of Women Voters prods Hudson to tackle climate-change concerns – Akron Beacon Journal
With data showing Hudson is creating an outsized impact on its environment in comparison with its neighbors, the League of Women Voters is prodding the affluent northern Summit County city to take the issue of climate change seriously.
In the four years the local chapter’s Climate Crisis & Environmental Sustainability Committee has been meeting, nearly 200 participants have identified a number of climate-related issues facing the city. Since its inception, the committee has worked closely with city staff.
The committee held a roundtable discussion Feb. 9 at Hudson High School. Among the attendees were Hudson City Manager Thomas Sheridan and state Rep. Casey Weinstein, D-Hudson.
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The meeting brought together residents in small groups to seek answers to a number of questions, including how residents have noticed the impacts of climate change in their own neighborhoods and how the community should manage climate threats.
Residents reported out their answers to each of these questions.
Mimi Larsen Becker, the chair of the committee, sat down with the Beacon Journal to talk about the meeting as well as the committee’s overall findings and continuing efforts.
Becker holds a master’s degree in environmental economic policy and management from Nicholas School of the Environment at Duke University and a Ph.D in natural resources and environmental science policy and management with special attention to international and sustainable development and ecosystem restoration concerns.
Why does Hudson need to take action on climate change?
Becker said that compared to some of the surrounding communities of similar population size, education, and impact, Hudson is lagging behind in its response to global climate change concerns.
“Cumulatively, in Hudson,” said Becker, “because of the wealth of the community, we are the highest emitter of residential emissions,” citing a map published on the New York Times website based on research from the University of California, Berkeley that indicates that Hudson’s residential communities generate 60-70 tons of carbon dioxide.
She explained that the combination of large residential lots with a need for gas-powered lawn maintenance, two or more cars in the driveway, and large families requiring higher consumption of resources contribute to Hudson’s elevated greenhouse gas emissions.
“That is in spite of being a very unusual city. We have almost 42% of tree canopy in Hudson, which is impressive. So the fact that our emissions are as high as they are isn’t because we haven’t been paying attention to urban forestry,” said Becker.
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What climate-related issues are Hudsonites worried about?
Among some of the concerns outlined by Hudson residents is worry over increased animal populations near residential areas, flooding and standing water, and a rise in the transmission of tick-borne disease.
“Some people in the city are concerned because there are a lot of coyotes showing up,” Becker said. “Well, there’s prey around because the wild animals have been forced out of where they’ve always lived due to development…and they’re hungry because their food supplies have been disrupted by the change in the climate.”
Is Hudson already addressing some of these concerns?
The city is actively working to address some of these issues already.
According to a slide in the committee’s presentation, Hudson recycles asphalt and uses recycled asphalt on their roads, permits the installation of solar technology, maintains 2,000 acres of greenspace, and has its own Economic Awareness Committee.
Becker also mentioned the Barlow Community Center Solar Training Facility built in 2016 to educate residents about solar power, and to train first responders how to do their jobs around this new infrastructure.
“It’s not like Hudson’s doing nothing. (But) it’s not coordinated and we’re not tracking the emissions-reducing impact right now. They’re doing things to prevent generation of emissions,” said Becker.
What are the next steps, and how can people get involved?
The data gathered will be discussed in detail at the committee’s next meeting on April 12 at the Hudson High School Media Center. Attendees will also hear specifics about how the city can craft a climate action plan.
The meeting will feature a panel of officials from other cities that have been working on addressing emissions — including Oberlin, which has been working on a climate action plan since 2001.
Becoming a part of the process is simple.
“Show up at a meeting or notify myself or somebody else on the league that’s been identified,” Becker said. “They can go on our website, they can let us know, or they can pay attention to when the next meetings are.”
Contact reporter Derek Kreider at DKreider@Gannett.com