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.”
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!