Wisconsin Backtracks on Climate Change

Last month the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources updated its website.  Among the changes are the removal of all language implying that said humans and greenhouse gases are the main cause of climate change. The DNR now says the subject is a matter of scientific debate.

“… as it has done throughout the centuries, the earth is going through a change. The reasons for this change at this particular time in the earth’s long history are being debated and researched by academic entities outside the Department of Natural Resources.”

dnr change.jpg

For entire article, click here.

According to Wisconsin DNR spokesman Jim Dick, [The] updated page reflects our position on this topic that we have communicated for years, that our agency regularly must respond to a variety of environmental and human stressors from drought, flooding, wind events to changing demographics. As you know the causes and effects of any changes in climate are still being debated and research on the matter is being done in academic circles outside DNR.” While some scientists have painted doubt for the reason why the planet is warming, the vast majority of climate scientists agree that burning of fossil fuels has increased global greenhouses gases in the atmosphere and has caused warming.

A 2014 United Nations report that surveyed the latest science of climate change found “human influence on the climate system is clear, and recent anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gases are the highest in history.” How is that considered “being debated”? Ah, but we must remember, we have now entered the post-truth era where truth is whatever the people in power want it to be, and facts no longer matter.

Wisconsin’s Governor Scott Walker has been critical of President Obama’s climate initiatives, and he has a track record of actively undermining pro-environment programs and policies while supporting the fossil fuel industry.  Walker also has close ties to Charles and David Koch, the billionaire brothers who made a fortune in fossil fuels and who for years poured money into groups that cast doubt on the science of climate change. In his 2015 budget, he cut funding for renewable energy research, as well as municipal recycling programs.  He did, however, budget a quarter of a million dollars for a study into the health effects of wind turbines.  The study attempts to connect inaudible sound waves from wind turbines to insomnia, anxiety, and other disorders. Wisconsin’s Public Service Commission attempted to impose a surcharge on monthly bills that homeowners would have to pay if they purchase their own solar panels!

In 2011, Governor Walker appointed Cathy Stepp to head the state DNR.  Stepp was an outspoken critic of the DNR.  As the Wisconsin State Journal noted, “Putting Cathy Stepp in charge of the DNR is like putting Lindsay Lohan in charge of a rehab center.”

I am confident that the reason the Wisconsin DNR made the change to their outlook now, rather than several years ago, has much to do with the incoming president who has repeatedly referred to climate change as a “hoax perpetuated by the Chinese”.  My concern is that more states, particularly those whose economies rely on coal or oil, will follow suit, given that the new administration seems set to follow a course of reversing past gains in environmental issues. The reality of climate change has been scientifically verified many times over, and those who would deny the reality do so either out of ignorance or greed.  For a state government agency, with the blessing of the governor of that state, to do so is dangerous and unacceptable.  Fully 70% of the U.S. population believe that carbon emissions are a danger to our environment and support such measures as the Clean Air Act.  However, Trump’s nominee to head the Environmental Protection Agency, Scott Pruitt, is a known climate change denier and he and Trump have plans to shut down Nasa’s Earth science division, calling it “politicized science”.  Climate change is NOT a ‘matter of scientific debate’, but a very real, very dangerous phenomenon for the planet that sustains human life.  I hope that other states will do the right thing, rather than following in the footsteps of Wisconsin!

18 thoughts on “Wisconsin Backtracks on Climate Change

  1. I organized a conference at my university years ago and the two main speakers addressed the issue of the “ethics of nuclear usage.” Both spokesmen were seasoned speakers on their respective topics, but the one who was paid by the Texas Power and Light Company said at one point: why should we have too alter our lifestyles just to avoid the possibility of a nuclear accident? That same attitude dominates today with regard to global warming.
    We keep our house at 62 degrees in the Winter (59 at night) and wear sweaters and sit with blankets to read or watch the television. It takes a bit of getting used to, but it has also resulted in fewer head colds and a lower cost of power. I would think the latter consideration would tip the scales for many selfish people!

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    • Wow! “why should we have too alter our lifestyles just to avoid the possibility of a nuclear accident?” Unbelievable! But yes, you are right … this is the same thing. And two thumbs up to you for your energy conservation! I keep mine a bit higher than 62, but usually around 65 or 66.

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  2. And, while we dither, China just announced yesterday spending $360 billion on even bolder goals for renewable energy by 2020. On top of what they are already doing, China should meet these bolder goals by end of next year.
    I have written that if the US chooses as a country to backtrack on climate change, China will fill the void. Also, we are already passed the tipping point here, so even The Donald cannot alter that, although he can decelerate the pace rather than accelerate which is needed. I believe a group like The Breakthrough Energy Coalition will pick up the Trump led US slack, and be our representative at the table.

    It should be noted that Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker and Florida Governor Rick Scott followed a lead of President George W. Bush had told state officials they could not mention climate change or global warming in interviews or speeches Both denied this, but your story corroborates Wisconsin’s stance.

    If I were Rick Scott and surrounded on three sides by sea, I would take climate change very seriously. Especially when Dade and three surrounding counties are spending $200 million (about 1/2 what is needed) to hold back encroaching sea water and the Biscayne aquifer and Everglades are in jeopardy.

    Walker and Scott can play ostrich, but this is for real. Scott, in particular, may want to listen to a Norwegian climate scientist who said Miami is already doomed. Like Hugh posted on Pascal today, would you rather retreat and pretend the greatest risk facing our planet long term is not real or plan for the risk. There is a group called “Conservatives for Renewable Energy” that believe we should plan. And, I left the GOP in 2006 for its refusal to acknowledge climate change.

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    • I learned something new from reading your comment. I was only vaguely aware of the potential danger to Florida, but did not realize that the damage is already happening. Thank you for your thoughtful comment, Keith … I always learn from you! I think you may well be human encyclopedia! 🙂

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      • Likewise. The limestone is so porous, sea water seeps through the stone to threaten the aquifer. As for the Everglades, there is noticeable impact on the grasses which are bellweathers as the marshes support so much new life. After rain, the sea water is coming up through the street drains in Miami and surrounding areas. The governor nor its Senator from the area, apparently do not think this is a big deal. The message is believe me, not your own eyes.

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  3. Scientists are scrambling to copy and maintain the data on climate change since Trump’s college electoral win. Even The Memory Hole moved to Canada to preserve data from being destroyed by the Trump Admin. This is serious stuff. All the makings of a dictator in office.

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    • Yes, I have read that, and isn’t it frightening to think that, not only is the man planning to change policy, but that he would even destroy scientific data to fit his rhetoric? It IS serious stuff and we should all be concerned. I do not understand how so many can bury their heads in the sand on so many issues, this one included. And yes, I am thinking the same … Erdogan only worse … maybe not quite Hitler, but maybe close. Frightening, but then I try not to be an alarmist. It is hard somedays. Thanks for dropping by!

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      • Well, an alarmist is someone who raises the alarm which is perfectly okay in this case. There is an subtle undercurrent happening in the US of those stating the facts and anomalies being put into defensive positions. We have plenty of verified facts, information, direct tweets, and accrued knowledge of Trump’s character from the campaign itself and even prior. The more we stand our ground, the more sanity we will retain throughout with others who care about the facts and see through the current propaganda as well.

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    • Ah yes, my friend! There are two points on which we respectfully agree to differ, and I appreciate your point of view also. I wish more people could discuss and disagree without breaking down into name-calling, threats and disrespect. Makes us unique, doesn’t it? 🙂 ❤ Hugs, Jack!

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    • Yes, and not only are they endangering Wisconsinites, but the rest of the global population as well! I love that you called them weenies! I haven’t called anybody that in ages … maybe I shall start again! 😀 Love and hugs, Gronda!

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    • I have often said that even if the evidence weren’t as convincing as it is, even if global warming is not as serious as 97% of the scientists say it is we should all act AS IF it were true — err on the side of caution. But very few even want to go that far because it would mean altering their lifestyle!

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      • Yes, the term “better safe than sorry” does come to mind here. I think the problem is two-fold. a) it inconveniences people to turn the heat down, carpool, drive a more fuel-efficient vehicle, etc., and b) people tend to live for today and to hell with tomorrow. Until they cannot breath, until they open their front door one morning and the ocean laps into their living roon, until … well, you get the picture. Humans are a selfish lot, and yes, I include myself in that. Tonight I was so cold, so I turned the thermostat up without a second thought. Sigh. Is there any hope for us? Sigh …

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