Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Climate change in Wisconsin

Some of my readers here know that in my work life I am focused on the many ecological challenges facing our world right now, trying to raise awareness, trying to encourage people to engage these realities, trying to help articulate with others how we are going to live through some difficult times as ecosystems come under increasing stress from our industrial civilization. Among those stresses is the accelerated warming of our atmosphere caused by greenhouse gas emissions.

Right now in our state political culture, we are dominated by two sides of a bad coin: business people and politicians who are global warming deniers or who know it's happening but don't want to do anything about it; and then the way-too-many of our citizens here who are incredulous, skeptical, getting their info from political pundits like Charlie Sykes, as if he has read even one authoritative study on the issue.

I was with one such skeptic over the weekend and, really, it is amazing to hear deniers speak with such authority when they are not acquainted with the science, haven't read the experts, have had only one conduit of noise on the topic from the political right. I mean, I tried to mention the research I've read, the studies, the workshops by scientists that I've attended... Doesn't matter. Runs into the mental brick wall of all that punditry that confirms a world view, whether or not it is accurate.

And isn't that, after all, a central aspect of our dysfunctional political culture right now?

Despite all that, climate change resulting from human-induced global warming is impacting Wisconsin already, and these impacts are going to become increasingly severe with rising temperatures in the atmosphere.

So it's best to arm ourselves with good info. I recommend a great resource to you from the UW-system, Wisconsin Initiative on Climate Change Impacts.  You will find some really good visuals and video that lay out the challenges and what to expect over the course of this century. Fair warning: it is more than a bit unsettling. These are not changes we can take back. We will have to learn to live in a new reality, which will mean many upheavals in all our lives.

At the same time, we have to decide how bad things are going to get - and that's about policy choices and lifestyle choices. We're all in this one together and so none of us can escape the impacts. But if we continue putting in office people who dismiss, disdain, obfuscate, or deny this reality, we only ensure that things are going to get a whole lot worse for our kids and grandkids.

This should not be a partisan issue, nor should it be in the hands of corporate lobbyists who profit from the very industries that are changing our climate. This is about simply being a human being, a species that, like all others, needs a habitat in which it can survive and thrive.

Wisconsin really needs some leadership on this stuff, and that has to come from all of us.

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