Download and read the full December 2019 Landscapes Newsletter.
-by Deb Nemeth
“I want you to act as if your house is on fire. When your house is on fire you don’t promise results in a decade or a year or a week. You grab a bucket and find some water. Immediately.” -Greta Thunberg
Climate change is having an undeniable impact on our environment and our health. We know that the impacts of climate change are happening far faster than we previously realized. Weather patterns have changed over the past 30 years due to climate change. In that time flooding has become much more severe and frequent. Places like Spring Green have persistent flooding even during dry weather because of rising groundwater levels, which has had significant adverse impacts on agriculture in the area.
Far removed from Spring Green, northern Wisconsin has been experiencing disruptions in traditional winter snow seasons, disrupting snow related tourism events. The 10,000 skiers who boost the economy of the Cable-Hayward area with the Birkebeiner ski race have seen the race cancelled due to lack of snow.
Unfortunately, this is only the beginning of the change we will see with global warming. Long range projections call for warmer winters, more flooding and possible disruption in bird migrations. While warmer winters may sound inviting to some, the implications for our ecosystem are quite alarming.
We also know that the changes will become more disruptive and devastating if we delay doing the things we already know how to do. This underscores the need for action now. Right now we have the resources necessary to reduce the most drastic impacts of a changing climate and the resources to adapt to the changes we cannot avoid. But every second of delay makes the challenge more expensive and more difficult. Minimizing climate change through mitigation is much cheaper than paying for damages and adapting as we go.
In other words, while our house may be figuratively on fire, we still have the ability to extinguish the fire. It’s a source of great frustration that our current president has taken steps to actually make the situation worse. The U.S. has pulled out of the Paris Climate Accord. The President is loosening automobile efficiency standards. He has undertaken a campaign to undermine alternative energy development and instead tried to make it easier to burn coal for energy – the dirtiest source of energy currently available. The state hasn’t provide much help either. Both houses of the legislature continue to completely avoid any serious discussion of measures that could reduce greenhouse gas emissions in Wisconsin.
WHERE ARE OUR FIREFIGHTERS?
We must be the firefighters. We can advocate for needed policy changes at the state and federal level but we can also be a part of the solution in our communities today. Many of the needed strategies are accomplished at the local level. Many of the strategies are things that we can do as individuals. But, none of the strategies will work if we are passive observers.