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Let’s get real: the vast majority of scientists agree that the rapid warming of our climate will have devastating impacts on communities across the globe.

This past month, we saw leaders from across the globe gather to discuss that very issue and to strategize on how to mitigate the impacts of climate change. And yes, despite our nation’s rejection of climate science, U.S. leaders did participate. In fact, they were very active during the climate summit. They even teamed up with Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and Russia to block the endorsement of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report on the dire consequences of climate change. The U.S. leadership went even further by promoting the use of natural gas and fossil fuels at the conference — generating genuinely appalling laughter from the audience. Not exactly the kind of participation the majority of Americans hoped for.

This leaves me to wonder: what impacts will climate change have on Wisconsin? The IPCC report warns that there are only about a dozen years to mitigate the effects of climate change before the impacts of droughts, floods, fires and super storms are worsened. For each region of the U.S. this has different consequences. In a congressionally mandated report, U.S. researches recently released a 1,500 page report on what impact climate change will have on the U.S. and the prospects aren’t looking good for Wisconsin.

The Midwest could see some of the largest temperature increases of any region in the U.S. For a state that prides itself on frosty winters and comfortable lakeside temps, Wisconsin might instead begin seeing summertime temperatures similar to that of current day Arizona. And our greatest pride and joy — our abundant waters — well, they could see an increasing amount of toxic algae blooms as a result of warmer temperatures and larger farms. But that’s not all. Some estimates show that corn and soybean production will drop by as much as 25 percent, making feed for dairy farmers even more expensive.

Climate change isn’t just an environmental issue — it’s an economic issue. According to Travel Wisconsin, tourism had a $20.7 billion impact on our state. What happens to that industry when our lakes are green all summer and our winters have too little snow? What will the economic impact be on our state’s rich agriculture heritage? Cherries, dairy, cranberries and paper products all stand to take a hit as temperatures rise.

And yet there is still reason for hope. Cities and states are acting all across the U.S., despite the Trump Administrations insistence on ignoring climate science. In fact, Minnesota has joined other states in signing on to the Paris Climate Accord and is widely expected to reach their goal of 25 percent renewable energy production by 2025. And we could even see some action here in Wisconsin. During the campaign, Gov.-elect Tony Evers stated that he supported the goals outlined in the Paris Climate Accord. Yet without a supportive legislature, Evers is unlikely to be able to take any significant action on climate change.

The back-and-forth negotiations and dire predictions can certainly weigh heavy on the mind. It’s all enough to feel like throwing in the towel. But know this — you are not powerless! You can call your representatives and ask what they are doing to help protect Wisconsin from the worst consequences of climate change (visit maps.legis.wisconsin.gov to find your lawmaker’s contact information). You can also make home energy upgrades that not only make long-term economic sense, but also pay you actual cash. I just received a check in the mail for upgrading my furnace, and was even paid to recycle an outdated, energy sucking fridge (visit focusonenergy.com or contact your energy company for ways to save when upgrading). And then there’s our daily lives, and with the holiday season upon us, there are a lot of ways to make more environmentally friendly decisions. There’s never a better time of year to resolve to build a better planet — for all of our sakes. So in 2019, I’m resolving to act in a way that ensures that Wisconsin’s beauty isn’t just there for me to enjoy, but that it endures through the generations. I hope you’ll join me.

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Wren Keturi is a communications professional who lives in Chippewa Falls.

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(2) comments

Further North

Wren, you're adorable, but you're clueless.

The US has been doing a decent job (better than that, really, but I'm willing to moderate for the sake of discussion...something I'm not sure you're interested in) taking care of the environment for a few decades. We have, in fact, moved the needle too far in many cases, creating problems (western wildfires) where they didn't exist before. Our meddling (you can call it "intervention" if you like, but you'd be wrong) often causes more problems than it solves. Stepping back often improves perspective. You might want to write that down.

The real problems in our environment are China, Russia, India, most African countries, most other Asian countries.

If you’re genuinely concerned about the environment, instead if beating your keyboard trying to make people feel bad in the US, it's really a math problem.

If there is a genuine sunset on environmental conditions on our planet, nothing the US can do, even if we ceased outputting hydrocarbon tomorrow, will stop us from hitting that point unless something is done about the rest of the planet.

If you really care, you'd focus on that. You'd give up your comfy house/apartment. Your nice car, your cozy office, and you'd move to place where the conditions are awful, and you'd commit to making a difference.

But you won't do that.
You'll wear the clothing made in 3rd world countries where human rights are a joke and anything approximating environmental activism will likely get you thrown in jail...if you're lucky.
You'll continue to drive your car to work, cook your food with energy sources that produce hydrocarbon (even if they are remote).
You'll set your thermostat to 70°, or to 72° and tell yourself you've an "efficient" heat source, rather than absorbing the expense of converting to geothermal, or with other environmentally friendly sources, and set it to 60° or 62° and dress so that you'll be warm.
In the summer, you'll run your air conditioner, at home and in your car, and you won't think about the amount of hydro carbons that'll create.

I could go on, and I might be wrong about a couple of the above, but not all of them, not even close.

You're adorable, but you're clueless.

SRLaBelle

Wren,
The problem with climate warming solutions is that the immediate costs will fall directly upon the middle class and the immediate benefits will fall on a group of bureaucrats who have in no way demonstrated their ability to administer any such program without immense corruption commensurate to the immense scope of the program.
The fact that you, the communications director for the Madison office of a teacher’s union, wholeheartedly embrace the notion of a carbon tax administered by some nebulous combination of government bureaucrats is not particularly surprising.
Wren, it is difficult for me to consider the Wisconsin teachers unions of the recent past and the big time union bosses which they spawned without remembering enterprises like the WEA Trust, the union’s in-house insurance company, from which school districts throughout the state were forced, during collective bargaining sessions, to buy their group health insurance policies at inflated pricing..
That sort of... let’s just call it what it is, corruption, is the taint which contaminates your global warming rhetoric, the fact that you apparently collect a salary from very same folks at AFT, who so enthusiastically support the return of public employee unions, folks who would welcome the re-emergence of blunder busses like Marty Beil and/or over priced union boss bullies like John Matthews at Madison Teachers incorporated, leaves your bright and cheery persona feeling like a put on.
I don’t want to go back to a time when union bosses held the upper hand in Wisconsin education or government..
I don’t think that any sensible Wisconsinite desires that..
The ideologues who continue to agitate for public employee union dominance in the state are mistaken, that pathway leads only to fraud, corruption and failure.
I feel as though we are like Soviets in the time of Khrushchev, having finally thrown off the tyranny of Stalin and you are a young patriot, who has been flown in from Moscow, with a bow in your hair, singing the praises of Stalin, cheered on by a fading cadre of local apparatchiks.
Maybe I’m wrong, but as long as you collect your daily bread from a teachers union in Madison it will be hard to see you as other than a seed scattered by Randi Weingarten in hopes of returning Wisconsin into the grasp of her union.
On global warming, it is difficult to envision a “solution” run by the bureaucracy which will accomplish anything beyond a sort of carbon tyranny, featuring carbon czars doling out carbon favors to their friends, families and political allies...
The chance of any sort of success is nebulous and uncertain but the costs will be certain and born exclusively by the middle class... it is a recipe for world wide tyranny...
Jack booted bureaucratic thugs, rummaging through people’s lives and hurting people for the “greater good”..
It brings to mind the Holodomor, instead of Soviet thugs searching the homes of Ukrainian farmers and stealing the food from their cupboards, leaving them to starve, we will have high tech bureaucratic thugs preventing people from heating their homes or driving their cars, all for a gauzy vision of a greater future and always with rules which never apply to the enforcers.
So, for me, it really isn’t a question as to whether global warming is actually happening or not, it may be or may not, (there probably aren’t 1,000 people on the planet who really understand the science underlying the theory) for me the real question is, can the endemically corrupt thugs who populate the bureaucracies of the world actually be trusted to solve the problem?
Sadly, I think that any clear eyed reading of history says, “No”, or at least not yet, not until a clear picture of the situation presents itself...
I agree with FurtherNorth, you are an adorable, silver tongued, clear eyed, superbly organized, union priestess... the sort of leader which the local union acolytes have never before enjoyed,
They have bowed down before you as you have rung the iron bell of the union faithful..
It’s sort of touching, and just a little frightening, much like watching the aged faithful gather before the the huge steel statues of Joesph Stalin which reside at the heart of many small towns throughout the Soviet Union...
But I digress...
Global warming?, ...bad
The solutions proffered by those who would profit from our potential misery?
Worse...

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