Loretto Recognizes Responsibility to Work With Others to Defer Climate Change in Ohio River Basin
Editor’s Note: This is the last of the four-part series.
The Loretto Motherhouse is situated in the Ohio River Basin. The basin is an area that drains into the Ohio River from the convergence of the Allegheny and Monongahela rivers at Pittsburgh, Pa., to Cairo, Ill., where the Ohio River flows into the Mississippi River.
Both the Louisville Courier-Journal and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette published articles on the federal study that details impacts of climate change on the Ohio River Basin. The study formulates adaptive strategies addressing infrastructure components in the basin. The study is entitled “Ohio River Basin — Formulating Climate Change Mitigation/Adaptation Strategies through Regional Collaboration with the Ohio River Basin Alliance.” It investigates potential climate change impacts to basic infrastructure and potential impacts on terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems (executive summary).
The study predicts accelerating temperature increases over the next 80 years together with significant precipitation changes in the eastern and western parts of the basin. The data suggest that the bigger and more rapid changes in temperature and precipitation will not speed up until about 2040. The summary states that “the potential to infrastructure, energy production and both aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems range from minimal to dramatic and potentially devastating in others.”
The big thing the study tells us is that there will be a slow ramping up of climate change over the next 20 years. There are only two or three decades to rebuild the basin’s ecosystems and avoid the worst effects of climate change. The basin includes 13 states and most of Kentucky. The Courier-Journal reported that the study indicated that flooding, drought and power failures could become more frequent in Kentucky and Indiana (Courier-Journal, Nov. 17, 2017). Among the findings for Louisville are increasing storms that will risk flooding, more frequent droughts and a reduction in river volumes in some areas that put into jeopardy drinking water supplies and power generation that rely on abundant water. Rising temperatures and wild swings in river flow will threaten to wipe out fish and aquatic life in ecosystems.
The Courier-Journal listed some key recommendations from the study:
- Fix flood control dams that are in poor condition.
- Restore wetlands which can soak up rain.
- Water conservation in cities and on farms.
- Better manage pollution washing off farms and cities.
The Ohio River Basin is important because of its great biodiversity. Besides working with our own Loretto Farm and Land, we have a great responsibility of justice to creation to collaborate with organizations aiming to implement the recommendations of the study to defer impending climate change in our Ohio River Basin.