Governor Scott Walker Punts on Taking On Climate Change in Wisconsin’s State Budget and Other Walker Administration Decisions


While other countries and U.S. states struggle with the deadly and extremely negative economic costs of dangerous storms made worse by warming oceans and rising sea levels caused by increasing greenhouse gases concentrations in the atmosphere, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker has taken a pass on including anything in his two-year budget about how or to what degree the State of Wisconsin might reduce its annual greenhouse gases emissions and better adapt to the changing climate predicted for the future in Wisconsin. Governor Walker’s two-year state budget was forwarded to the Wisconsin Legislature earlier this month for adoption by July 1, 2015.

Much of what the governor’s budget proposes for the state will exacerbate the world’s chances of ever reducing climate change, or global warming, to a safe level. Scientists now say the changing climate around the world (global warming) is overwhelmingly human-caused and will be disastrous for the planet if the amounts of fossil fuels (coal, oil, natural gas) we are now burning are not significantly reduced and in a timely manner – now! – worldwide, and deforestation, over has been done over the last 100 – 150 years is stopped. Forests sequester carbon dioxide (CO2) as they grow, which is also the most abundant of the greenhouse gases emitted during fuel combustion.

While Wisconsin did experience a costly drought two years ago, and suffered through two recent killing heat waves in 1995 and 2011, the state has generally been spared from such massive destruction and loss of life as occurred in the Philippine Islands caused by Typhoon Haiyan U.S. states under hit by Hurricanes Sandy Sandy, Katrina and Ike, Hurricane Irene and increasing torrential rains and flooding around the world, heavier snowfalls, and long lasting droughts in California, other western states, and other areas around the world.

The economic costs of these catastrophes, especially those occurring in the United States, negatively effects all states in the U.S. through increased prices of goods, higher insurance rates, and the overall health of the U.S. economy.

Instead of addressing the inevitable economic and environmental effects of climate change and its causes in Wisconsin, Governor Walker instead chose to include in his two year budget proposal for the state many action items that, if enacted into law by the Wisconsin Legislature will, without question, add to the already abhorrently high human, economic and environmental costs of change climate here in Wisconsin and throughout the rest of the world. For example, Governor Walker’s two-year budget, which would begin taking effect in July 2015, expands numerous major highways in the state to increase their capacity to accommodate increased driving of cars and trucks, the vast majority of which burn fossil fuels. The governor’s budget proposes to contribute millions of dollars in state bonding to help the privately owned Milwaukee Bucks build a new arena for NBA games, games that require thousands of miles of jet travel each year for each visiting team as well as their fans and supporting personnel, adding measurably to rising volumes of greenhouse gases linked with global warming.

Furthermore, by not proposing other actions, many additional sources of greenhouse gases and pollution will continue and undoubtedly increase significantly in the next two years under the Walker administration and the current Republican legislature. Due to the lower price of crude oil, prices of fuel at the pump have dropped, leading to the purchase of less fuel efficient SUVs and trucks.

Americans and Wisconsinites need to drastically reduce their annual driving miles, and Governor Walker’s budget should have included positive financial benefits to encourage people to drive fewer and fewer miles each year, and compensate those individuals and Wisconsin families who manage to drive less miles, annually, than average – especially those individuals and families who don’t drive personal automobiles or fly airplanes (jet fuel is a fossil fuel and jets burn tons of fuel on each trip) during the year. The emission of greenhouse gases (GHGs) to the atmosphere from motorized transportation, jets, other internal combustion engines, as well as GHGs emitted from coal, oil, and natural gas burning power plants and household and business furnaces is “cumulative”, meaning the various emission of those gases accumulate in the atmosphere over time, rising to higher and higher levels of concentration in the atmosphere.

Scientists the world over have reached a level of consensus that the amount of GHGs present in the atmosphere are becoming increasingly of concern, more threatening each year that global warming worsens. Eventually, global warming could reach, or is close to reaching, its “tipping point” in the atmosphere – a level of accumulation of GHGs in the atmosphere after which the earth’s natural systems could keep adding more and more GHGs into the atmosphere, the point at which continued warming would become inevitable, regardless of what we humans do to reduce our GHG emissions. For example, as the permafrost region of the planet thaws (1/5 of earth’s surface exists in the form of permafrost), the GHG methane is released from the rotting permafrost. Methane is a much more potent GHG than CO2, and when the permafrost begins to thaw extensively, it will be releasing massive amounts of methane to the atmosphere, This would make matters much worse, because global warming would become less responsive, if responsive at all, to the amount of GHGs we humans cause to be emitted (or not to be emitted).

About Mike Neuman

Identical twin; Long-time advocate of protection of our environment; Married; Father to three sons; Grandfather to one granddaughter; Born and raised in Wisconsin; Graduate of University of Wisconsin; post graduate degrees in agricultural economics and Water Resources Management fro UWMadison; Former School Crossing Guard for City of Madison; Bike to Work for 31 years with Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources; Retired from DNR in 2007; Biked to school crossing guard site 2 X daily for 7 years retiring in 2019; in addition to being an advocate of safeguarding our environment, I am also an advocate for humane treatment of animal, children, and people in need of financial resource for humane living. I am presently a Volunteer for Habitat for Humanity, Madison, Wisconsin. I oppose all long (>500 miles) distance travel (via fossil fuel burning) for nonessential purposes and all ownership of more than one home. I am opposed to militarism in any form particularly for the purpose of monetary gain. I am a Strong believer in people everywhere having the right to speak their minds openly, without any fear of reprisal, regarding any concerns; especially against those in authority who are not acting for the public good?in a timely fashion and in all countries of the world not just the U S.. My identical twin, Pat, died in June 2009. He was fired from his job with the National Weather Service despite having a long and successful career as a flood forecaster with the Kansas City National Weather Service. He took a new position in the Midwest Regional Office in Minneapolis. Unfortunately, Pat’s work for the NWS went sour after he began to see the evidence for concern about rising global temperatures shortly after relocating to Minneapolis, and how they appeared to effect of flooding on the Red River that flows out of Canada before entering the U.S. in North Dakota. . Pat and I conversed on a regular basis with other scientists on the Yahoo Group named “Climate Concern “ and by personal email. The NWS denied his recommendation to give his public presentation o n his research at the “Minneapolis Mall of America” in February 2000, which deeply affected h,im. I will h He strongly believed the information ought be shared with the public to which I concurred. That was the beginning of the vendetta against my brother, Patrick J. Neuman, for speaking strongly of the obligations the federal government was responsible for accurately informing the citizenry. A way great similar response to my raising the issue of too many greenhouse gases being emitted by drivers of vehicles on Wisconsin highway system, my immediate supervisors directed: “that neither global warming, climate change nor the long term impacts upon the natural resources of Wisconsin from expansion of the state highway system were to be any part of my job requirements, and that I must not communicate, nor in a memorandum to all the bureau, shall any person who works in the same bureau I do communicate with me, neither verbally on the phone, by email.

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