With a Forecast of Sea Level Rising 5-6 Feet Under “Business-as-Usual” Conditions, Media and Others Ought Ask Presidential Contenders What Steps the Country and Its People Ought Be Taking to Reduce this Major Threat to Humanity!
The latest study in the prestigious Journal Nature predicts the world’s oceans will rise 5 or 6 feet by the end of this century without major changes to end fossil fuel burning – NOW! We are causing irreparable harm to the earth’s climate and its physical and biological systems – including warming and acidification of the oceans as well as rising sea levels – processes that have already begun and will not be possible to reverse even if humans stop burning fossil fuels today.
So all we can do is slow the rate of change and help those most likely to be affected to prepare for the worst. It’s the least we can do.
The League of Conservation Voters has a continually updated report “In Own Words” on each remaining 2016 presidential candidates’ past statements on climate change . Non of the candidates statements reflect the study on sea level rise released last week.
Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker committed Wisconsin taxpayers to contribute $250 million, or $400 million with interest, over the next 20 years, to pay for the Milwaukee Bucks new arena. That will supposedly cover roughly half the cost of this “investment” of State of Wisconsin funds. The other $250 million will be paid by the Milwaukee Bucks’ wealthy owners.
The NBA and the Milwaukee Bucks convinced the State’s Republican lawmakers and Governor Walker last August that this would be a sound investment for the state for the next 20 years, albeit a condition for keeping the Bucks franchise in Wisconsin.
Global warming and the need to drastically cut the air travel emissions that professional sports teams emit to Earth’s atmosphere, free of charge, will be just one of the many changes required to keep climate extremes and Earth’s rising ocean levels at bay. Big arenas like the Buck’s new arena could become symbols of a day gone bye-bye. Too bad for the investors in this white elephant and all professional sports team owners and big time athletic colleges, too. Only time will tell how big a white elephant the new Milwaukee Bucks and the State of Wisconsin’s new pro basketball sports team arena will turn out to be.
Instead of Climate Change Legislation, Wisconsin’s Legislature and Governor Pass Laws to Relax or Prohibit Protection of State’s 15,074 Lakes, Rivers and Streams
Just in the past year, the GOP-led Wisconsin Legislature, at the behest of mainly agriculture, construction and real estate interests, has approved numerous bills to relax or prohibit state and local efforts to regulate, safeguard or even monitor the state’s lakes, rivers, and streams. Between January 2011 and December 2015, those special interests contributed about $2.7 million to Republican legislators and nearly $9 million to Republican Gov. Scott Walker.
Here are a few of those controversial measures:
Assembly Bill 603, which creates new standards for placing structures along the shores of lakes and rivers, and prohibits counties from using zoning ordinances to regulate or restrict shoreline construction projects, like boathouses and fishing rafts, among others. The measure, which was backed by agriculture, construction and real estate interests, was signed into law by Walker.
The 2015-17 state budget, which was approved by the legislature and signed by Walker last summer, prohibits Dane County from making wastewater, sewage and other water quality decisions. Instead, the Department of Natural Resources is in charge of water quality decisions for Dane County. The DNR is required to base its decisions on water quality standards outlined in state law, rather than stricter local standards, and to make decisions on applications to revise the plan for new real estate developments within 90 days. The DNR is also banned from working with the county or its other local governments on the water quality plan or changes to it. The non-fiscal measure was tucked into the budget and passed at the request of developers.
The 2015-17 state budget, which prohibits counties from adopting zoning rules stricter than state law when it comes to what shoreline property owners can do with their property. Zoning rules govern how close structures can be to water, lot sizes, building maintenance, and vegetation, among other things, in order to protect water quality in streams, rivers, and lakes. The plan strips at least 20 counties of their right to have zoning and shoreland protection rules stricter than state law. The non-spending measure was inserted into the budget with the backing of construction and real estate interests.
Senate Bill 459, which loosens state regulations and restricts local control involving waterways and the land around them, dry lake beds, wetlands, storm water control systems and other man-made ditches, and rules governing the repair of piers and boathouses. The measure, which was approved by the legislature and sent to Walker, is backed by agriculture, construction, real estate, and business interests.
SB493, which would reduce the state’s authority to regulate fish farms. The measure, which was approved and sent to Walker, expands the permissible bodies of water where fish farms can be built; loosens requirements on the amount of water that dams on fish farms may control or discharge; and exempts man-made ponds, wetlands, and roads on fish farms from DNR permit requirements. The measure was backed by the agriculture and restaurant industries.
Text from Wisconsin Democracy Campaign
A new scientific study, released to the media Tuesday by the European Geoscience Union’s Journal of Atmospheric and Physics, has major media sources reporting “alarming” study predictions of sea level rise and extreme weather from global warming, “much faster” than the rate of rise predicted in the most recent report by IPCC scientists. The world’s governments are being urged to “speed up the transition to carbon-free energy.” (Slate, 3/22/16)
Last year was the hottest on record. This January was the hottest on record. This February was the hottest on record — when the northern hemisphere breached 2 degrees of average warming for the first time in human history. “Our planet’s temperature just reached a terrifying milestone.” (Slate, 3/12/16)
The study uses climate simulations, paleoclimate data and modern observations to infer that continued high fossil fuel emissions will cause a slowdown and eventually shutdown the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation and the Southern Meridional Oceanic Circulation, resulting in an increase in powerful storms and nonlinear sea level rise, rising up to several meters in 50–150 years.
The meridional overturning circulation is a system of surface and deep currents encompassing all ocean basins. It transports large amounts of water, heat, salt, carbon, nutrients and other substances around the globe, and connects the surface ocean and atmosphere with the huge reservoir of the deep sea. The circulation of ocean water has been found to play a central role in climate and climate variability. Historically, the focus of research has been on the North Atlantic Basin, a primary site where water sinks from the surface to depth, triggered by loss of heat, and therefore buoyancy, to the atmosphere. A key part of the overturning puzzle, however, is the return path from the interior ocean to the surface through upwelling in the Southern Ocean. This return path is largely driven by winds. It has become clear over the past few years that the importance of Southern Ocean upwelling for our understanding of climate rivals that of North Atlantic downwelling, because it controls the rate at which ocean reservoirs of heat and carbon communicate with the surface.
The authors of the new study claim that the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) “missed” reporting on these important changes in their latest IPCC report, which the 18 authors of the new study underestimates ice sheet melt and the IPCC’s models are too insensitive to accurately account for ocean waters mixing.
In a video abstract: “Ice melt, Sea Level Rise and Superstorms”, lead author and climate scientist Dr. James Hansen states that evidence from paleoclimate data, climate modeling, and modern observations show that the maximum level of global warming that was set at the Paris Climate Summit meetings in early December 2015 of 2°C global warming to be “highly dangerous” and that “We have a climate emergency and must slash CO2 emissions ASAP or irreparable harm to the climate will be done for succeeding generations”.
This opinion was published in The Cap Times, March 16, 2016
By Dave Zweifel – Editor Emeritus
Gaylord Nelson*, the late Wisconsin governor and senator, would often confide to friends that if he were king he’d make it tough for big, smoke-belching manufacturing plants to locate in the state.
To say that publicly wouldn’t have sat well with the state’s business gurus. Nelson would have been pilloried for having an anti-business attitude and holding back the state’s economy, but he firmly believed that Wisconsin was a unique place, a natural wonder that needed to be protected for eternity.
And while the state never had a policy to keep big manufacturing plants out, it did develop laws to protect its natural beauty, adopting strong environmental safeguards for everything from the state’s towering northern forests to its thousands of blue-water lakes. Manufacturers were expected to follow those regulations and the Department of Natural Resources was charged with making sure they did. We didn’t want any Gary, Indianas, in our midst.
It wasn’t just Democrat Nelson who carried the torch to protect Wisconsin from potential polluters. A Republican named Warren Knowles did too. The two Wisconsin politicians grew up not too far from each other, Knowles in River Falls in Pierce County and Nelson in little Clear Lake in Polk County, about an hour’s drive to the north.
They knew firsthand Wisconsin’s rushing rivers, its fresh and unpolluted air, its varied landscapes that beckoned folks to enjoy the great outdoors. It was their love of Wisconsin’s unspoiled beauty that resulted in the two of them pushing the state to buy land and preserve it for the people.
The Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Program wound up protecting over a half-million acres for posterity and keeping Wisconsin as true to its natural roots as possible. The state became known for its environmental protections and was considered a model of how states could balance the interests of businesses, conservationists and environmentalists for the benefit of all.
I am struck by how much that’s changed under Scott Walker’s tenure as Wisconsin’s governor.
A recent story in the Wisconsin State Journal described how the current leadership of the DNR is hurriedly putting together a reorganization of the department that many fear will reduce the department’s ability to keep tabs on potential polluters. That is coming on top of several laws passed in the state Legislature’s most recent session that will harm our state’s waters.
And that’s on top of a gradual reduction in DNR staff, including educators and foresters, and decimation of the department’s Science Bureau. And that’s still on top of the Walker administration’s directive to the DNR to sell off some of the land preserved by the Knowles-Nelson fund.
In short, where just a few years ago the state’s environmental interests were on equal footing with those of businesses and developers, the playing field has been tilted in favor of the latter groups.
Wisconsin is already starting to show scars. The proliferation of controversial megafarms called CAFOs (concentrated animal feeding operations) continues unabated around the state, often in areas where private wells and groundwater aquifers can be contaminated. In Kewaunee County, a high concentration of cows in CAFOs and the resulting liquid manure is suspected in the contamination of numerous residential wells.
Other CAFOs have experienced devastating accidental spills of manure, the most recent in Grant County, where two miles of a pristine trout stream were poisoned. Yet the CAFOs seem to get routine approval. One proposed to be opened near the town of Saratoga in Wood County, complete with 5,300 cattle producing enough waste to equal that of a city of 106,000 people, is being fought relentlessly by the local people, but the fight may all be for naught.
The DNR’s deputy secretary, Kurt Thiede, said the planned reorganization, which is targeted to occur as early as June 1, is aimed at taking best practices from other states. Arizona, Iowa and Tennessee were given as examples.
There was a time when other states came to Wisconsin to learn about the best ways to protect their natural resources.
Dave Zweifel is editor emeritus of The Capital Times. firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @DaveZweifel.
Gaylord Nelson founded Earth Day, celebrated in the United States and around the world annually, on April 22, since 1970. His last book was “Beyond Earth Day: Fulfilling the Promise”.
Aldo Leopold was a professor at the University of Wisconsin and is best known for his book “A Sand County Almanac” (1949), which has sold more than two million copies.
The State of Wisconsin, which has already issued a Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources permit to the Enbridge Company to increase the capacity of its pipeline across Wisconsin, to transport up to 1.2 million barrels of tar sands oil a day, will hold a contested case hearing on March 23, 2016, in the hearing room at the Wisconsin Division of Hearings and Appeals, 505 University Avenue, Suite 201, Madison, WI, at 9:00 am.
The tar sands oil, some of which is already being pumped through the pipeline, originates from the tar sands mines located in Alberta, Canada where the product is processed, is also believed to contain significant quantities of flammable additives which make the product fluid so that it can be pumped through the pipeline. The fluid of additives is then returned to the processing site in Alberta, Canada via an adjacent pipeline for reuse.
Wisconsin’s Legislature Ends 2015-2016 Session Without Addressing Poverty, Racial Disparities, Climate Change, and Groundwater Pollution
As far as the Wisconsin State Legislature is concerned, which concluded its 2-year legislative session last week, the problems of poverty, racial disparities in income and education, climate change – with its possibility for more extreme and threatening extremes in the weather and an acceleration of sea level rise (and a warming Great Lakes) – and groundwater pollution – one-third of the wells of residents of Kewaunee County that were tested contain water found unsafe to drink – are not worth their time to discuss.
Dr. Martin Jr. once said: “an injustice anywhere is injustice everywhere.” While he seemingly meant those words to apply to the racial injustices, one could just well apply them to generational injustices. Global warming – a long lasting and life-threatening consequence of the last century and today’s fuel burning economic lifestyle, especially in developed countries, — is most certainly a generational injustice.
New Poll Results by FINANCIAL.com show the U.S. population’s concern about global warming is at an eight-year high.
Accepting the reality of human-caused global warming and climate change – not just more costly and more dangerous extreme weather events (such as stronger hurricanes, increases in flooding, longer and hotter heat waves, worse droughts and the increase in disease prone areas throughout the world) and the unprecedented in human history and accelerating rise of the elevation level of the oceans along with its increased acidification – is the necessary first step world citizens must take if we are to have any hope for passing on to our succeeding generations a planet that is fit to live on. The necessary second step is for EVERYONE: including people of all races and places, of all businesses and governments, of all colleges and universities, of tourism organizations and recreational providers, of professional and amateur athletes and their coaches and fans, and all other entities, work towards minimizing and ultimately stopping their daily and annual contributions of greenhouse gas to our atmosphere, what is considered by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) scientists as a dangerous buildup of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.
Thursday, 17 March 2016:
The FINANCIAL — Americans are taking global warming more seriously than at any time in the past eight years, according to several measures in Gallup’s annual environment poll. Most emblematic is the rise in their stated concern about the issue. Sixty-four percent of U.S. adults say they are worried a “great deal” or “fair amount” about global warming, up from 55% at this time last year and the highest reading since 2008.
As they should be. What we’re seeing now, including February’s record smashing global average temperatures, is just the beginning of the unimaginable changes predicted to result from the buildup of greenhouse gases in Earth’s atmosphere, primarily resulting from too much fossil fuel burning, over decades and centuries, mostly in the developed countries of the world.
Mirroring this, the March 2-6 survey — conducted at the close of what has reportedly been the warmest winter on record in the U.S. — documents a slight increase in the percentage of Americans who believe the effects of global warming have already begun. Nearly six in 10 (59%) today say the effects have already begun, up from 55% in March 2015. Another 31%, up from 28% in 2015, believe the effects are not currently manifest but will be at some point in the future. That leaves only 10% saying the effects will never happen, down from 16% last year and the lowest since 2007.
A third key indicator of public concern about global warming is the percentage of U.S. adults who believe the phenomenon will eventually pose a serious threat to them or their way of life. Forty-one percent now say it will, up from 37% in 2015 and, by one point, the highest in Gallup’s trend dating back to 1997.
Americans’ clear shift toward belief in global warming follows a winter that most described in the same poll as being unusually warm. Sixty-three percent say they experienced an unusually warm winter, and the majority of this group ascribes the warm weather pattern to human-caused climate change.
Record 65% Blame Human Activity for Rising Temperatures
That finding relates to another record broken in the new poll — the 65% of Americans now saying increases in the Earth’s temperature over the last century are primarily attributable to human activities rather than natural causes. This represents a striking 10-percentage-point increase in the past year and is four points above the previous high of 61% in 2007.
All Party Groups Show Increased Concern
Concern about global warming has increased among all party groups since 2015, although it remains much higher among Democrats than Republicans and independents. For example, 40% of Republicans say they worry a great deal or fair amount about global warming, up from 31% last year. The percentage of independents expressing concern has also increased nine points, from 55% to 64%. Democrats’ concern is up slightly less, from 78% to 84%.
Democrats and independents also show double-digit increases in the percentages attributing warmer temperatures to human activities. Republicans show a more modest uptick of four points on this question.
A confluence of factors — the economic downturn, the Climategate controversy and some well-publicized pushback against global warming science — may have dampened public concern about global warming from about 2009 to 2015. However, Americans are now expressing record- or near-record-high belief that global warming is happening, as well as concern about the issue. Several years of unseasonably warm weather — including the 2011-2012, 2012-2013 and 2015-2016 winters — has potentially contributed to this shift in attitudes. If that’s true, continuation of such weather patterns would likely do more than anything politicians and even climate-change scientists can to further raise public concern.
Above story from “FINANCIAL” was written by Lydia Saad and Jeffrey M. Jones.
“There is nothing more sad or glorious than generations changing hands.” – John Cougar Mellencamp, 1985, on jacket of his album “Scarcrow”, 1985.
The Dalai Lama Teaches Fellow Tibetans and City of Madison, Wisconsin, and Later in the Week, Geneva, Switzerland on the “Oneness of Humanity”
The Worldwide Goals of All of Humanity Achieving Peace of Mind through Love, Compassion, Meeting their Responsibilities in Reducing and Adapting to Climate Change, Helping Others, and “the Oneness of Humanity” Highlighted the Dalai Lama’s Discussions Lead by The Dalai Lama in Madison, Wisconsin and Geneva, Switzerland
When the Dalai Lama arrived at the Madison Masonic Center in Madison, Wisconsin on March 8, 2016, a small group of Tibetans with flags and placards were waiting quietly to welcome him. He was met as he stepped out of his car by President of the Wisconsin Tibetan Association (WTA), Tsetan Dolkar, about 1,050 people, including 700 Tibetans, were gathered to listen to him speak inside the Masonic Temple. Sharpa Tulku moderated the occasion and first introduced children of the WTA who cheerfully sang a song of gratitude to the Dalai Lama. Amdo Yeshi Gyamtso read a report summarizing the activities of the Association.
In her introduction, Tsetan Dolkar spoke particularly about students’ achievements in a wide range of studies up to and including PhD. She noted the Dalai Lama’s advice that compassion is essential for our survival as human beings. She expressed thanks to everyone who had contributed to making the occasion possible.
Local Congressman Mark Pocan stepped forward to offer the Dalai Lama a traditional white silk scarf, and Dane County Executive Joe Parisi introduced the Dalai Lama to the audience. The Dalai Lama’s three major commitments to the promotion of human values: (1) to ensure human happiness; (2) harmony among religious traditions and (3) preservation of Tibetan Buddhist culture. Executive Parisi said that as a mark of support, the Tibetan flag is flying alongside the Stars and Stripes over the Dane County Executive Building for the duration of the Dalai Lama’s visit.
The Dalai Lama:
“Indeed, it is a great honor for me to have the opportunity to meet all of you Tibetans and friends of Tibetans here. We’ve been in exile now nearly 57 years, but wherever we are local people have been friendly and supportive. Here, too, the local administration and friends have shown us genuine warm feelings, as well as support for our just cause. Thank you.
“I am glad to hear that our community here has a sense of responsibility both as Tibetans and as local citizens. In Tibet people still face great difficulties, which is why it is important that we preserve our identity. This is not just a matter of how we look, but of knowing our own language, how to use it and the significant body of knowledge, the Nalanda tradition, it is capable of expressing. In the past, only monastics, not laypeople, really studied these things. This needs to change. Already nuns have taken up the study of classic texts and several of them will shortly be awarded Geshe degrees.
“I have also been encouraging laypeople to study the classic texts. You young people should try to do that too. It will enrich what it means to be a Tibetan, which is what maintaining our identity is about.”
The Dalai Lama said that whenever he meets other people he considers himself to be just one among 7 billion human beings. He said that on that level there are no differences between us, whether you think of nationality, faith or whether people are rich or poor, educated or uneducated. He remarked that we are all born the same way, and brought up in the shelter of our mother’s affection. This is why all 7 billion human beings have the same potential to cultivate warm heartedness. Equally, scientific findings that constant anger, fear and hatred undermine our immune system applies. It’s common sense, he continued, that families where love and affection thrive are happy even when they are poor, but families, who, despite their wealth, are riven with jealousy and suspicion are miserable.
The Dalai Lama said the prospect of humanity being more peaceful depends on individuals being peaceful within. He affirmed that because of our brains we are capable of thinking ahead and planning for the future. Through education and awareness we can cultivate physical health and a calm mind. He said we need to cultivate compassion, yet modern education tends to focus on material development rather than fostering inner values. This is why it’s important to find ways to incorporate ethics and human values into our education, something the Dalai Lama said he is committed to support.
He explained that as a Buddhist monk his second major commitment, at a time when the unthinkable is happening and people are killing each other in the name of religion, is to promoting religious harmony. He said this is possible because the common aim of all religions is to foster affection and build friendship. He declared that he has many friends among Christians, Hindus, Jews and Moslems, as well as Buddhists. At the age of 81 he said he remains committed to working to promote human values and religious harmony and appealed to his listeners that if they think of him as their friend, they should do so too.
Taking up the ‘Eight Verses for Training the Mind’, which is primarily a teaching about altruism, he said: “This is not just about accumulating knowledge but is rooted in taking refuge in the Three Jewels and generating the awakening mind. We can compare the usual four line verse for taking refuge to the words we say when offer our food – ‘To the Buddha the unsurpassed teacher, the Dharma, the unsurpassed refuge and the Sangha, the unsurpassed guides, I make this offering.’ When we say the Buddha is unsurpassed we don’t think of him as powerful like a creator, but as sharing with us the way to liberation, a way he has already gone. When we say the Dharma is unsurpassed we don’t just mean the scriptural teachings, but the realization that arises from implementing them in our minds. This refers to our training in morality, concentration and wisdom. Such a refuge enables us to eliminate the ignorance that is the root of suffering.
“As Shantideva says:
Although seeking to avoid pain,
We run headlong into suffering.
We long for happiness, but foolishly
Destroy it, as if it were our enemy.
“Ignorance is a distortion of reality that we can only overcome through wisdom. And when we refer to the Sangha as the unsurpassed guide, we think not only of those in robes, but of anyone who has actually implemented the teachings. So, in the first two lines of the verse we’re going to recite, we take refuge and aspire to enlightenment for all sentient beings and in the latter two lines we generate the awakening mind of bodhichitta. This confirms our natural inclination to seek happiness and avoid suffering, but as Shantideva says again our tendency to self-centredness leads us in the opposite direction:
Whatever joy there is in this world
All comes from desiring others to be happy,
And whatever suffering there is in this world
All comes from desiring myself to be happy.
“Selfishness leads to shortcomings while concern for others yields advantages. Although the achievement of Buddhahood is to help other beings, we should remember:
Buddhas do not wash unwholesome deeds away with water,
Nor do they remove the sufferings of beings with their hands,
Neither do they transplant their own realization into others.
Teaching the truth of suchness they liberate (beings).
“In the Mahayana approach to taking refuge we take refuge until we attain the essence of enlightenment. The objective is to help all sentient beings alleviate their sufferings. The third line says, ‘through the merit of engaging in generosity and so forth, may I attain enlightenment for all beings.’ However, this is not only about merit but about wisdom too. If we investigate the ‘I’ who takes refuge, we find that our sense of a self that is intrinsically existent is without basis. It’s something we impose on the collection of body and mind.
“Analysis is not something we accomplish quickly, but it is powerful and effective. It’s something I’ve undertaken for 60 years and it has a real effect. It undermines our misconception of self and in doing so it counters our disturbing emotions. The cognitive therapist Aaron Beck told me that when we are angry, the object of our anger seems wholly negative, but this is 90% mental projection.
The Dalai Lama recommended adopting the Four Reliances: reliance on the teaching and not the teacher; reliance on the meaning and not merely the words; reliance on the definitive and not the interpretable meaning and reliance on noble wisdom and not on (ordinary) consciousness.
Turning again to the Eight Verses, he said they were composed by Langri Thangpa a student of Potowa who belonged to the lineage of those who study the classic texts. The main point of the text, which is brief but effective, is the cultivation of altruism, which relates to the conventional awakening mind.
The Dalai Lama was invited to lunch at the Overture Center for the Arts by the Chancellor of the University of Wisconsin at Madison, Rebecca Blank.
After lunch, the Dalai Lama participated in a panel discussion which touched again on the importance of peace of mind and the interest that scientists are now taking in it. The Dalai Lama pointed out that what really destroys our peace of mind is our disturbing emotions. He commended a greater role for women leaders, suggesting that if the world’s almost 200 nations were led by women the world might be a safer place. He referred to encouraging scientific evidence that basic human nature is compassionate, which means that we can train ourselves further that way.
He noted that corruption is a result of shortsightedness, low moral standards and greed. And while observing that real generosity occurs when there is no expectation of a reward, he reminded those listening of the importance of giving with respect for the recipient. He said that it is also possible to visualize being generous.
He said the media have an important role to educate people about positive developments, which would involve taking a more balanced view of human activity and potential. As to what he would like scientists to study to contribute to creating a better world, he replied that they should accept that their knowledge remains limited and to approach their work with an open mind. He recalled warnings he received nearly 40 years ago to beware of science as a ‘killer of faith’. He overlooked this advice and entered into dialogue with scientists that in the course of time has been mutually beneficial and enriching.
Also attending the Dali Lama speaking engagement at the Masonic Center was City of Madison Police Mike Chief Koval, who posted the following on his blog under the title “Peacemaking” on March 15, 2016:
March 15, 2016 8:24 AM
With his recent visit to Madison, the 14th Dalai Lama spoke again to a packed theater at the Overture Center. His message was at once simple and profound: World peace is developed from inner peace, and the foundation for both is love. To best serve as guardians of democracy, police must be more than peacekeepers, we must also be peacemakers. One calls for police to respond to and preserve peace while the other requires us to create and perpetuate peace. Both are necessary dimensions to the compassionate guardianship members of the Madison Police Department strive to effectuate every day. As the Dalai Lama reminds us, to do this work we must start by creating opportunities to foster inner peace. To this end MPD is poised to embark on a groundbreaking collaboration with Dr. Richie Davidson and his team of researchers from the Center for Healthy Minds here at the University of Wisconsin – Madison.
Our officers may encounter dangerous and unpredictable critical incidents on any given day, and must also deal with the additional stressors of shift work, lost sleep, public criticism and increasing scrutiny.
While many officers regularly incorporate a variety of individual wellness practices, and the Department has several support systems in place to promote officer wellness including our City Employee Assistance Program, Critical Incident Stress Management Program, Officer Involved Critical Incident Aftercare protocol and Peer Support Program, we continuously seek out opportunities to help improve officer well-being through proactive and preventative practices. This is a critical issue not just for our officers and their families, but for the Madison community as a whole.
As reflected both in the Presidential Task Force on 21st Century Policing report as well as a recently released set of recommendations from a use of force task force stemming from the Dane County Law Enforcement and Leaders of Color Collaboration, the health and well-being of police officers is inextricably linked to the health and well-being of the communities they serve. Officers who are resilient in the face of stress and trauma will be happier, healthier, and more productive. They will have greater capacity to respond in an adaptive manner to critical incidents as well as non-traumatic daily interactions, and they will have the strength and resources to serve as effective guardians of this community.
Officers train. We train a lot. And what Dr. Richie Davidson’s world-renowned research in the field of contemplative neuroscience tells us – much of which has included studying the Dalai Lama and other veteran practitioners of meditation – is that we can also train for well-being. In working with Dr. Davidson and his research team at the Center for Health Minds, we are exploring a pilot study designed to investigate the effects of Mindfulness-Based Resilience Training (MBRT) on police officer physical and mental well-being. Planning for this project is underway, and we are working hard to secure a source of funding. We are excited about this collaboration with the Center for Health Minds and anticipate that this pilot study will be but the first step in an ongoing partnership. It is our hope that this project may come to serve as a model for how police departments across the country can promote officer well-being, with potential cascading benefits throughout the department and for the communities we serve.
We are thankful to Dr. Davidson and the Center for Healthy Minds for the invitation and privilege to have heard the Dalai Lama speak here in Madison last week, and we look forward to the opportunity to partner around our shared commitment to cultivating peace.
Dalai Lama in Geneva, Switzerland
Prior to a discussion human rights at an event sponsored by the United Nations (UN) the Daili Lama met with journalists on March 11, 2016. Geneva, Switzerland, The Dalai Lama spoke of on the “Oneness of Humanity” and explained to the audience his three commitments. He recommended that education should emphasize the inner values of (1) warmheartedness, (2) tolerance and (3) forgiveness. He observed that although religion has been a source of happiness for thousands of years, sadly, today, it is becoming a source of hatred.
Later that day, the Dalai Lama participated in a discussion on the theme human rights in front of the Human Rights Council’s 31st session and members of the Tibetan community (above photos taken at UN in Geneva, Switzerland, March 11, by Olivier Adam ), with Nobel Laureates Tawakkol Abdel-Salam Karman and Leila Alikarami, and an Iranian lawyer and human rights activist representing Nobel Laureate Shirin Ebadi.
“We are talking about the future of humanity,” the Dalai Lama said. “No matter how small our voice here may be, it is essential we speak up”, he said.
“Sometimes people say all is well with the world, but they are mistaken. We are facing many problems. During my lifetime I have witnessed continual conflict and bloodshed in the course of which millions of people have been killed. We need to ask where we went wrong, what qualities we lack and why violations of human rights take place. Answering these questions and creating peace will require wisdom and compassion.
“Although I am a Buddhist monk, I am skeptical that prayers alone will achieve world peace. We need instead to be enthusiastic and self-confident in taking action.”
He said those now causing trouble and disturbing peace in the world are also confident, but are insufficiently moved by basic human values. Therefore, if we are to create a more peaceful world in the future, we need to introduce warmheartedness and secular ethics into our general education system.
The Dalai Lama said climate change and the ups and downs of the global economy are problems that affect us all. They are not confined to national boundaries. Focusing on secondary differences between us like race, religion, nationality and gender, stokes our inclination to divide people into ‘us’ and ‘them’, which easily becomes a basis for conflict. He stressed that if we remember the oneness of humanity and think of each other as brothers and sisters we can overcome that potential for violence.
Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources to Hold Four Public Informational Hearings on its Proposed General Permits on Nonmetallic (Including Frac Sand) Mining Operations
On March 16, the Department of Natural Resources released the public notice for the reissuance of the following two WPDES Nonmetallic Mining Operations general permits:
Nonmetallic Mining Operations (Non-Industrial Sand and Other Aggregates), WPDES General Permit No. WI-A046515-6: This general permit covers nonmetallic mining operations defined under Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) Code 1400 to 1499, except SIC Code 1446 (Industrial Sand). Typical operations covered under this general permit include mining and processing of construction sand, gravel, stone, rock and other aggregate.
Nonmetallic Mining Operations for Industrial Sand Mining and Processing, WPDES General Permit No. WI-B046515-6: This general permit covers nonmetallic mining operations defined under SIC Code 1446, Industrial Sand.
WPDES General Permit Nos. WI-A046515-6 and WI-B046515-6 authorize and regulate discharges of storm water and process wastewater from operations whose primary income-producing activity is nonmetallic mining. The proposed general permits and fact sheet are available on the WPDES permits on public notice webpage.
In late March and early April, the DNR will hold four public informational hearings on the proposed general permits. See the public notice for more details.
Below is the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources’ (DNR) Outdoor Report summary for March 10, 2016. However, conspicuous by absence is any mention that Wisconsin’s unusually warm weather this month is at all related to human activities that cause climate change. Some of the many sources of fossil and other fuel combustion that emit greenhouse gases to the atmosphere in Wisconsin include: fossil fuel burning in highway motor vehicles (gasoline and diesel oil); jet aircraft (refined oil/jet fuel); electric power producing plants (primarily coal, and natural gas – methane); natural gas burning for heating homes, buildings, churches and other buildings, recreational utility vehicles; road construction vehicles; in cement and asphalt manufacturing; in snowmobiles, boats, motor vehicles used in tractors and other agricultural machinery, in lawn mowing, in logging, and in other miscellaneous motorized products that burn fuel. Other greenhouse gas emissions may come from mining operations including sand and gravel mining and mining for metals, and from animal livestock propagation for food sales.
Despite the findings and recommendations from the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which concludes the climate change problem is “urgent”, as does President Obama, Wisconsin’s Republican Governor Scott Walker and the state’s Republican lawmakers have refused to even hold a citizen hearing regarding the growing threat of climate change, not just to Wisconsin’s future economy, but also the quality of life future residents and visitor to Wisconsin will be provided, as well as the threats of a changing climate to animal and plant life in Wisconsin for generations to come.
Unseasonably warm weather melts snow cover, slows maple tapping efforts
Wisconsin has experienced some unseasonably warm weather in the last week with daytime temperatures in the 50s and 60s and even a low 70 reported in Milwaukee. The warm weather has melted most of the snow cover statewide, with just snow surviving in some forested areas of the Northwoods. Snowmobile and cross-country ski trails are now closed statewide and most will remain so even if the state does experience a late season snowfall.
State park and forest trails that were groomed for skiing are now open again to hiking, but most properties are reporting that rail-trail, mountain bike and horse trails are closed, as conditions are soft and muddy and use of trails in these conditions can cause significant damage to trail surfaces.
With the general inland game fish season now closed except on those waters open to game fishing year-round, only a few panfish anglers have been venturing out, but ice conditions are rapidly deteriorating and many shorelines in southern and central Wisconsin are opening up, making access difficult and dangerous.
Most anglers on Green Bay are removing fishing shelters prior to this Sunday’s deadline as waters are rapidly opening up. Anglers were out in high numbers around Sturgeon Bay last weekend with many limits for whitefish reported. Anglers were open water fishing the Fox River at Voyageur Park for walleye but success rates have been low, though with the warmer weather that is expect this to change.
Raccoon, skunk, muskrat, mink, and opossum activity has increased as temperatures have increased and snow has departed. Wild turkeys have been strutting and starting their spring courtship. Flocks are breaking up and the large groups of toms and jakes have already decreased in size as they establish their spring pecking order.
With the warm weather and south winds there has been a significant increase in spring migrants sighted this week, including red-winged blackbirds, killdeer, robins, song sparrows, swamp sparrows, bluebirds, turkey vultures and more. Other early migrants returning to breeding territories include American woodcock, great blue herons and eastern meadowlarks. There was a heavy waterfowl migration across the southern half of the state, including common goldeneyes, all three mergansers, green-winged teal, pintail, wood ducks, and many others. Greater white-fronted geese are moving through in numbers, as are large flocks of Canada geese and occasional cackling, snow, and Ross’s geese. Canada geese are staking out territory and will begin nesting soon. Sandhill cranes are courting and dancing. Bald eagles are incubating eggs and some great horned owls already have chicks.
Maple syrup season has gotten off to a very slow start due to mild temperatures, especially overnight lows staying above freezing. One producer placed out 670 taps late last week and harvested 370 gallons of sap on Monday. The 10-day forecast does not show any significant changes to overnight lows. The concern is that trees will bud out soon resulting in an early end of the season.
A number of observers reported seeing leopard frogs, spring peepers have been heard in the south and salamanders were active with the warm temperatures. Unfortunately the warm weather has also brought out reports from shed hunters and maple tappers finding the first ticks crawling around on them.