Wisconsin Must Join the All Out World Effort to Fight Global Climate Change Without Delay, BEFORE Time Runs Out
Wisconsin has traditionally prided itself as being a state that “cares”. Wisconsin residents care about its wild and domestic animals, its fish, birds and butterflies; its plants, trees, and its forests; its tens of thousands of lakes, streams and rivers, and the quality of its wetlands, groundwater and air; its mighty bluffs and gorges, its remaining prairies, and the state’s overall majestic scenic beauty.
Wisconsin has traditionally had a strong manufacturing economy, a top notch agricultural industry, a public education system second to none, a world class university system, and an equally top notch private schools, colleges, and other educational institutions. Wisconsin also boasts an excellent highway, airport, and bicycle transportation system, and communities that are walking and wheelchair friendly. It has always held all visitors to the state in high regards and treated them with respect the production and sustainability of its farms, the well being of its human population, without regard for race, heritage or creed. Wisconsinites treat visitors to their state with respect and dignity,satisfaction of its visitors and transients alike, and, perhaps above all, in leaving its land, water and its economy better condition than they received it. In a nutshell, that’s a statement of Wisconsin’s traditions and value, as I have come to know them.
Wisconsin residents often boast, and rightly so, that Wisconsin was the home of such renown conservationists and humanists as John Muir, Aldo Leopold, Senator Gaylord Nelson, Midge Miller and Vel Phillips. In the 1970s, Wisconsin was emulated by other states as the state to look at for developing effective environmental protection regulations to safeguard its treasures. With Wisconsin Departmental Resource Secretary Anthony “Tony” Earl at the helm, who would later become Wisconsin’s governor, and George “Knute” Knudson as its chief naturalist, Wisconsin natural resources were in good hands.
It is no exaggeration to say that all this is at risk the longer our Wisconsin Legislature, our governor, other state legislatures and governors, and the people’s representatives in the United States Congress continue to kick the issue of excess fossil fuel burning and greenhouse gas production by Americans down the road. What we don’t need is more highway development and expansion and more airport capacity expansion that encourage even more fossil fuel burning by the public. What we don’t need is more trade with distant countries that requires more fuel for shipping and flying. What we don’t need are more coal and natural gas burning power plants and the thousands of miles of high voltage transmission lines that go with them, and not Wisconsin power companies who restructure their rates in favor of more fossil fuel burning, thus discouraging their customers from investing in solar energy panels for their homes and businesses, and having the governor’s appointed Wisconsin Public Service Commission (the PSC) “rubber stamps” the fossil-fuel-dependent utilities’ proposals.
We are wasting valuable time and money by not relying less and less on fossil fuel dependent energy, and more on either energy conservation or on conversion to solar and wind generated power, in our homes, businesses and institutions; and that we desperately need to reduce aggregate driving and flying, which rely almost exclusively on burning fossil fuels that, when subject to combustion, release large quantities of greenhouse gases, especially carbon dioxide (CO2), to the atmosphere. Most of the greenhouse gases, such as CO2, remain in the atmosphere for centuries, accumulating to increasingly more ominous concentration levels, or they get absorbed in the oceans, making the earth’s ocean water more acidic, harming the biological species in the oceans.
But scientists the world over are in agreement that the rising concentrations of greenhouse gases from significantly increased fossil fuel burning by humans since the time of the Industrial Revolution (early 1800’s) have remained in earth’s atmosphere, trapping more and more of the Sun’s radiant energy and changing it into heat energy, causing the earth’s surface to warm, melting more of the polar ice caps and mountain glaciers, causing the vast permafrost region to thaw, releasing more and more methane gas, another greenhouse gas that’s known to have 37 times the heat-trapping power of CO2.
Scientists don’t know when global warming could begin accelerating, but it could be any day now. What they do know is that there are higher concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere now to push global surface temperatures much higher than what we have experienced thus far. Time is of the essence for the world’s populations who are relying on fossil fuel burning for energy to stop adding even higher concentration levels of greenhouse gases to the atmosphere, risking setting off positive feedback mechanisms in the system that could worsen the situation and amplify the weather extremes global warming has already caused in earth’s climate.