Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Wisconsin Scientists on Climate Change

With the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP15) meetings in Copenhagen this week, and "climate-gate," global warming and climate change are in the news all over the world and Wisconsin is no exception. Yesterday a group of 113 Wisconsin scientists delivered a letter to Wisconsin Senators Feingold and Kohl and Wisconsin’s Congressional Delegation urging them to support federal policies to combat climate change. The opening section of letter states “The science now convinces us that calls for immediate action are warranted to avoid the consequences of global warming on Wisconsin’s economy and environment, including the Great Lakes.” The four-page letter goes on to explain ways that global warming will have social, economic, and ecological impact on Wisconsin.

The full text and a list of signatures can be seen on the website of the Environmental Law & Policy Center.

Both our senators have expressed concern about the so-called “cap and trade” bill, the Waxman-Markey Climate Change Bill. Several of our representatives are strongly against it. They are concerned about how it will affect industry and jobs here.

I can understand Senator Feingold’s concerns that the United States cannot reduce carbon emissions without the support of other countries, but other countries can’t do it without the support of the United States. The concern about jobs is valid but a study called Job Opportunities for the Green Economy: A State-by-State Picture of Occupations That will Gain from Green Investments, which says that over 100,000 jobs would be added to Wisconsin payrolls in what are considered green jobs.

Because I usually agree with Senator Feingold, I wanted to understand his position better and so I spent a few hours this morning reading the pros and cons of this bill. I wish I could say I understood it better; it really is a complicated issue.

But I also read the text of the letter by the Wisconsin scientists and when it comes down to a position statement, I have to go with the scientists. Although my two senators still have my vote, so do these informed scientists of my state. Read the letter, do some research of your own, and then decide for yourself. Then, let your representatives in Washington know where you stand.

By the way, here in Wisconsin burning coal is not the only emission that increases carbon dioxide in our air. Those cows add a lot, too. As a lover of cheese, milk, and ice cream, I am not sure where I would vote if it comes down to reducing carbon emissions from dairy cows.

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