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Global Warming Arrives in Wisconsin January 1948

Lake Mendota in south central Wisconsin

January 2007


Global Warming in Wisconsin Table of Contents

Executive Summary . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2 Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3 Geologic Time Scale . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3 Role of Man . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4 Earth’s Changing Climate. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5 Rising Levels of Carbon Dioxide . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5 The Here and Now . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6 Rising Temperatures in Wisconsin . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6 Wisconsin Climate Projections . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7 Lost Winters Equal Lost Tourism Opportunities . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8 Early Spring: The Fate of Wildlife and Hunting Season . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9 What Climate Change Means for Wisconsin’s Waters and Fisheries . . . . . . . . 10 Losses in Agriculture. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11 Disappearance of the Northwoods . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12 Social and Health Related Concerns. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12 Local Solutions to a Global Problem . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13 Bibliography and References. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14

Authors: Nicole Lennart and Keith Reopelle Editors: Joyce Harms and Shauna Cook Design: Mark Manghera Published April 2007, Clean Wisconsin, Inc. (608) 251-7020; information@CleanWisconsin.org; www.CleanWisconsin.org You can find a copy of this report at www.CleanWisconsin.org. The cover photo is credited to the Wisconsin Historical Society WHi-34482 (image altered to add a blue water hole).

Clean Wisconsin 122 State Street, Suite 200 Madison, WI 53703 Phone: (608) 251-7020 Fax: (608) 251-1655 www.CleanWisconsin.org © Clean Wisconsin 2007 Printed with vegetable based inks on 30% post consumer recycled paper.

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Executive Summary

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lobal warming presents both a problem and an opportunity for the state of Wisconsin. Wisconsin is warming and discernable impacts have begun. However, we have the technology, know-how, and resources not only for Wisconsin to do its part in avoiding impacts from global warming but to also put us in the forefront of building a new clean energy system and economy. The most recent scientific report issued by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) makes it clear that global warming is upon us. But you don’t need to read that report to know this is the case if you live in Wisconsin. Local indications are open lakes at Christmas and early spring arrivals of birds at your feeder and plants in your garden. According to scientists at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 2006 was the warmest year in the United States. In Wisconsin our average temperature has risen about twice as fast as the temperature for the planet as a whole. The IPCC fourth assessment report states the global temperature is likely to increase 1.8 to 4 degrees Celsius (3.2 to 7.2 Fahrenheit) by the end of this century. Temperatures in Wisconsin are expected to increase at a rate two to three times that.1 This dramatic change will have drastic effects on our water supply, economy, and our health. This is consistent with climate change models predicting temperatures will rise faster and higher on the interior of large continents. So it’s not surprising we are already seeing the effects of global warming, but the speed of change is surprising many. This report looks at and briefly summarizes some of the changes already occurring in Wisconsin as a result of global warming and some of the more dire consequences down the road for our environment, health and economy as predicted by computer models. If we do not make major reductions in global warming (greenhouse) gases, some of the potential global warming impacts anticipated for Wisconsin later in this century include:

January 2007: Open water on Lake Mendota

Photo Credit: Clean Wisconsin

1. A 3 to 8 foot drop in the Lake Michigan water level, costing the shipping industry and port municipalities many millions of dollars. 2. Elimination of half or more of all inland cold water fish habitat including brook trout habitat. 3. Higher crop losses due to more frequent and severe droughts and storms; insect pests and heat stress on livestock will depress farm income, particularly for family farms. 4. Major reduction, if not complete loss of characteristic northern forests including boreal, hemlock and sugar maple forests. 5. An increase in mosquito and tick borne diseases such as Lyme disease and West Nile encephalitis. 6. Major loss in winter tourism revenues as the period of safe ice cover on Wisconsin lakes diminishes or disappears completely.

By taking quick action we can minimize many of these consequences, and at the same time put the state on the path to a stronger economy. We possess many reasonable solutions to the global warming threat. In the 1850s Lake Mendota in south central Wisconsin was Some solutions can be implemented in our daily lives such as purchasing frozen an average of 122 days per year; in the 2000s it has highly efficient products, like compact fluorescent light bulbs and high decreased to a yearly average of 82 days, a 31% decrease in efficiency furnaces. But we also need to implement policy at the state, ice coverage. regional and federal levels requiring higher efficiency in our vehicles and a reduction of global warming gas emissions from power plants. Additionally we need to invest in clean energy technology to help create new jobs, a new economy and reduce Wisconsin’s contributions to global warming. We applaud Governor Doyle for addressing this critical environmental issue by creating a Global Warming Task Force and look forward to working with the Governor, legislature, state agencies and other policy makers to implement workable global warming solutions for Wisconsin. Global Warming Arrives in Wisconsin

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www.CleanWisconsin.org


Introduction Flash flooding. Heat waves. Severe droughts. Hurricanes.

Photo Credit: istock.com/Alan Heartfield

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erhaps these severe weather events are nothing unusual, per se. We have all heard of their occurrences, maybe even witnessed one first-hand. But at the turn of the 21st century, these events have amplified into much greater forces—becoming more intense and more frequent. Even here in Wisconsin, we begin to notice changes in the climate that affect our daily lives: hotter summers, less ice coverage on our lakes in winters, and more severe storms. We are told that these weather patterns are normal and that climate is naturally variable and erratic. But we also hear the murmur of “global warming”—a buzz word in the midst of the media attention surrounding these changes. Some are not sure whether to put stock in its validity or to dismiss it just as we did with the frenzy of Y2K. The truth is, however, global warming is real and we must act now to minimize the damage we are doing to the earth’s atmosphere.

Geologic Time Scale

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Photo Credit: Clipart.com

ver the past two million years, massive ice sheets have advanced across the Northern Hemisphere and retreated again more than twenty times. Geologically speaking, we are now living in a warm period following an ice age. The most recent advance, called the Wisconsin glacier or Wisconsinian, began roughly 120,000 years ago.2 At its height, most of Canada, New England and the upper Midwest were buried a mile underneath glacial ice. As the enormous mass of continental glacier retreated, the pooling meltwater filled the scoured land left behind and created the Great Lakes. The glacial retreat, or interglacial period, marked the beginning of the Holocene epoch, or what is considered “present-day” in geological terms. However, if humaninduced global warming continues, a super-interglacial might occur— holding itself in a warming period for longer than ever before.

When the Wisconsin glacier retreated, the pooling meltwater filled the scoured land left behind and created the Great Lakes. Even the magnificent Great Lakes, one of the natural wonders of the world, are vulnerable to the effects of global warming. Global Warming Arrives in Wisconsin

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Role of Man

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he Holocene epoch can be defined by one creature—man.3 With the earth’s population currently estimated at 6.5 billion, man has evolved to become a dominant force capable of altering the planet on a geological scale. Yes, climate has always been characterized by change. Atmospheric conditions are naturally erratic. Yet, when analyzed over a period of say, a few hundreds of thousands of years, these ‘unpredictable’ climate fluxes actually follow a traceable pattern. But the dramatic alterations occurring today in the atmosphere and oceans are now clearly outside of the realm of natural variations. The retreat of the Arctic sea ice, the warming of the oceans, the rapid shrinking of the glaciers, the redistribution of species, the thawing of permafrost—these are all new phenomena.4 For the planet to remain in “energy balance”5 it must continually warm and cool itself. Gases in the earth’s atmosphere, including water vapor and carbon dioxide, trap heat from the sun near the planet’s surface. This natural “greenhouse effect” keeps temperatures on earth just right for life as we know it. But in the last century man has changed the The Greenhouse Effect: Within the past century, the growing world’s population has fundamental composition of the atmosphere by burned oil to power our cars, and burned coal to run factories and produce electricity. increasing carbon dioxide beyond natural levels. These actions have increased the amount of carbon dioxide in the earth’s atmosphere by With a century’s worth of burning coal and oil to 31 percent. Today’s carbon dioxide levels are higher than they have been in over power our cars, produce electricity and run facto420,000 years. These changes, in just a span of one hundred years, have intensified ries, atmospheric concentrations of carbon diox6 the greenhouse effect, allowing less of the sun’s heat to escape the earth’s atmosphere. ide have increased by 31 percent. Today’s carbon The effects of global warming are becoming more difficult to ignore. dioxide levels are higher than they have been in over 420,000 years.7 These changes, in just a span of one hundred years, have intensified the greenhouse effect, allowing less of the sun’s heat to escape the earth’s atmosphere. The changes that can be seen today – the first impacts of global warming - lag behind changes in the climate system that were set in motion decades before. DRIVE LESS And as anyone who has ever tried to push a Auto emissions are one of the top two stalled car can attest, systems that are hard to major producers of global warming polluget moving also tend to be hard to stop. Photo Credit: Clean Wisconsin

How the warming effect works.

tion. Making a serious commitment to drive less and use mass transit, or to bike or walk more, will greatly reduce your personal contribution to global warming.

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Photo Credit: Clipart.com

SOLUTIONS

www.CleanWisconsin.org


Earth’s Changing Climate

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s a result of steadily increasing global warming emissions, average global temperatures increased during the 20th century by more than 1ºF. It has also been documented that this rate of change has tripled during the last quarter of the century.8 This means that temperatures are increasing faster and faster as time goes on. If current trends continue, global temperatures are predicted to rise by an additional 2.5ºF to 10.4ºF by 2100.9 A few degrees may not sound like much, but consider that during the last ice age, the global average temperature was only a few degrees cooler than it is now and the result was a thick layer of ice coating much of the northern hemisphere. A possible consequence of a four or five degree temperature rise—on the low end of projections for the end of this century—is that the world will enter a completely new climate regime, one in which modern humans have no prior experience. It is believed that the last time global temperatures and carbon dioxide levels were this high was when sea levels were nearly three hundred feet higher and dinosaurs roamed the planet some fifty million years ago.

Rising Levels of Carbon Dioxide

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Photo Credit: iStockphoto.com/Milos Peric

ven if atmospheric carbon dioxide amounts were to remain stable at today’s levels, temperatures would still continue to rise, glaciers to melt, and weather patterns to change for decades to come because the earth—as a system—is on a time delay. Artic ice core records demonstrate that, at 378 parts per million (ppm), current carbon dioxide levels are unprecedented in recent geological history.10 Even if we take a “business as usual” assumption and continue to emit global warming gases without regard to the climate, projections suggest that carbon dioxide levels will reach 500 ppm by the middle of this century and 750 ppm, or roughly three times pre-industrial levels by the year 2100. Exactly what temperature or level of carbon dioxide represents the threshold to global catastrophe is a question of utmost significance and one that cannot be answered at this point. When climatologists discuss the hazards of rising global warming (greenhouse) gas levels they use the phrase “dangerous anthropogenic interference” or DAI. Catastrophes associated with global warming – mass extinctions, disruptions in the worlds’ food supply, or the complete meltdown of one of the planet’s remaining ice sheets - have built-in delays which follow the tremendous inertia of the climate system. Therefore, DAI is understood to refer not to the end of the process—the moment when disaster actually arrives—but to the beginning of it: the point at which its arrival becomes unavoidable.

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The Here and Now

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n the last decade the understanding of global warming and climate change has vastly increased to the point that a study of over 900 peer-reviewed scientific papers on climate change found that not one questioned the scientific consensus that human activity is causing global warming.11 All the major scientific bodies of the world agree that humans are changing the climate and that we must take immediate action to avoid the most severe consequences of global warming.12

Rising Temperatures in Wisconsin

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esearchers using computer models develop climatic scenarios to predict future impacts that climate variability and change will bring. The potential impacts of climate change from these models are daunting. Nearly all regions of the globe will experience higher temperatures, but some, particularly inland areas in northern latitudes like Wisconsin, could get even warmer13,14, —significantly altering the way we live. Even though the full impact of global warming has yet to be felt, Wisconsin is already feeling the heat. A look at a time span from the years 1904 to 2001 reveals that Wisconsin air temperatures warmed significantly over time, especially in the spring and winter—averaging nearly a +2ºF increase.15 Seasonal precipitation trends have also changed during the last century, but are more regionally variable. Summer rainfall significantly increased in southern Wisconsin with a rate of 7.8 cm/century. In the north, precipitation decreased in the summer months, but increased every other season.16 The results can be explained not just by an overall increase in total annual rainfall, but rather a significant increase in the frequency and intensity of extreme weather events, such as severe thunderstorms, over the same time period.17 For those of us who live in Wisconsin, these trends illustrate the impacts of global warming on a local level.

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SOLUTIONS ENERGY EFFICIENCY Energy efficiency is a win-win situation. By using less energy, you not only contribute less pollution but you also save money. Two easy ways to use less energy are to purchase energy efficient appliances and insulate your home. Visit www.focusonenergy.org to learn about rebate programs available to help fund your energy efficiency efforts, both at home and at work.

www.CleanWisconsin.org


Photo Credit: Istockphoto.com/Susan Stewart

Wisconsin Climate Projections

If predicted climate changes are realized, less rain in the summer paired with increased evaporation could trigger severe summer droughts.

SOLUTIONS CLEAN ENERGY Coal power plants are one of the top two major producers of global warming gasses. Wisconsin can – and should – become a national leader in energy independence by developing clean energy technologies that combat global warming, build Wisconsin’s economy, and stop the flow of billions of dollars out of the state to import fossil fuels.

• According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change fourth assessment report, the global temperature is likely to increase 1.8 to 4 degrees Celsius (3.2 to 7.2 Fahrenheit) by the end of this century. Temperatures in Wisconsin are expected to increase at a rate two to three times that.19 This dramatic change will have drastic effects on our water supply, economy, and our health. • Patterns of precipitation are more complex and trickier to predict. Seasonal precipitation is expected to increase in winter by 15-30% but decrease in summer up to 20%.20 Rising temperatures will increase the rate of evaporation from the earth’s surface; and when the rate of evaporation exceeds precipitation, surplus water will no longer be available to recharge soil moisture. As a result, conditions in Wisconsin will become more arid. • If predicted climate changes are realized, less rain in the summer paired with increased evaporation could trigger severe summer droughts. Add more intense thunderstorms to the equation and there will be greater polluted runoff, increased erosion and flooding. • Wisconsin’s pattern of extreme weather events, such as heavy rainstorms, will also change: increasing in frequency and intensity.21

To put these changes into perspective, by 2030 Wisconsin summers may resemble those of Illinois. By the century’s end, our summers will compare to that of present-day Arkansas and winters will feel much like those of Iowa.22

What Wisconsin will Feel Like Source: Based on data provided by K. Hayhoe and D. Wuebbles

“There is no question that global warming demands immediate action. With a commitment to technology, Wisconsin can lead the way on global warming solutions.” Governor Jim Doyle State of the State Address January 30, 2007

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he latest and most reliable projections for future climate change combine over 100 years of historical data for Wisconsin with atmospheric circulation models of the earth’s climate system.18

Current

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Winter Changes over the 21st Century

By 2095 Winter

By 2030 Summer

By 2095 Summer

www.CleanWisconsin.org


Lost Winters Equal Lost Tourism Opportunities

Photo Credit: Wisconsin Historical Society

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he freezing and thawing of lakes were being observed and noted well before scientists began to measure, manipulate, and model freshwater systems. In particular, Lake Mendota in south central Wisconsin has provided one of the key data sets for analysis of historical changes in ice cover.23 Back in the 1850s, Lake Mendota stayed frozen for 122 days on average. Now, the average ice duration has dropped to 82 days, a 31% decrease, and notably above-normal temperatures for the winter of 2001-2002 resulted in the shortest duration of ice cover in the entire historic record—21 days!24 The decreasing duration of ice cover on lakes25 provides evidence that freshwater ecosystems are responding to warming trends. Projections of the declining ice cover trend over the next century indicate that our visions of ‘typical’ Wisconsin winters will be visions of the past. Possibly, our children and our children’s children may experience winters without snow and ice. Part of Wisconsin’s culture and ‘sense of place’ will be lost.26,27 Winter recreational activities such as ice fishing, skiing, snowmobiling, and winter festivals, will have to be modified or replaced completely. Lost opportunities and increased costs spell trouble for communities and businesses dependent on revenues generated from winter tourism. Even though winter recreation losses could be recouped by expanding warm weather tourism, extreme heat, heavy downpours, and possible increases in risk from insect-borne and waterborne diseases may hinder outdoor enthusiasm.28

In the 1850s Lake Mendota in south central Wisconsin was frozen an average of 122 days per year; in the 2000s it has decreased to a yearly average of 82 days, a 31% decrease in ice coverage.

Lack of winter ice coverage directly affects Wisconsin’s economy and winter experiences. Gary Engberg, a professional fishing guide from Mazomanie, Wisconsin notes, “Many guides I know are giving up guiding during the winter because it is just too unpredictable. The lack of winter guiding is really tough on the pocket book." And Geoff Crandall, board member and past president of the Capital City Chapter of Muskies Inc., says “I’ve always ice fished. But the past couple of years, you just can’t count on the ice being thick enough. Lately you don’t even see any shanties out on the lakes…there’s open water!” Global Warming Arrives in Wisconsin

Photo Credit: Clean Wisconsin

Decreased Ice Coverage on Lakes In Wisconsin

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Early Spring: The Fate of Wildlife and Hunting Season

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Photo Credit: Clipart.com

In 2001, more than 3.1 million people spent more than $3.6 billion on hunting, fishing, and wildlife viewing in Wisconsin, which in turn created 79,450 jobs in the state. As the distribution of species shifts across the region, the loss of wildlife and habitat could mean a loss of tourism dollars.

hile to some an early arrival of spring may sound good, this imbalance can wreak havoc in fragile ecosystems.29 Natural processes like the blooming of flowers, migration of birds, and the melting of ice are triggered by temperature. As temperatures increase globally, the delicately balanced system begins to fall into ecological disarray. Wisconsin is home to an incredible diversity of native wildlife, including 279 species of birds, 146 species of fish, 67 species of mammals, 35 species of reptiles, and 19 species of amphibians. Like hundreds of other species across the Northern Hemisphere, Wisconsin’s natives are forced to shift their ranges or adapt in response to global warming—changing the makeup of entire ecosystems.30 Aldo Leopold, known as the father of wildlife ecology, helped provide one of the longer term studies of species changes caused by increased temperatures. In the 1930s and 1940s, Leopold made detailed observations of the timing of spring occurrences on his Wisconsin farm. Six decades later his daughter and son, Nina and Carl, and other researchers continue to study how species have changed their behavior in the face of increasing spring temperatures.31 Their findings reveal that many of the familiar signals of spring are arriving earlier: • Northern cardinals are singing 22 days earlier • Canadian geese are arriving 29 days earlier; robins 10 days earlier • Tree swallows are laying their eggs nine days earlier • Frogs are beginning their breeding season 12 days earlier • Lilacs and honeysuckle are blooming 6 days earlier The Leopolds’ results indicate that spring events in Wisconsin are occurring on average more than one week earlier than they did during Leopold’s time. Earlier migration and breeding seasons have cascading effects down the food chain. For example, when plants bloom earlier due to warmer temperatures, insects relying upon them for food must adjust their life cycles, as do other species further up the food chain. If a species in the chain does not adapt, the chain is broken and species begin disappearing.32 Hunters, outfitters, and naturalists will also face future challenges caused by these ecosystem changes—traveling greater distances to capture their prized game or - at the extreme - finding that the animal they are searching for no longer exists. In 2001, more than 3.1 million people spent more than $3.6 billion on hunting, fishing, and wildlife viewing in Wisconsin, which in turn created 79,450 jobs in the state. As the distribution of species shifts across the region, the loss of wildlife and habitat could mean a loss of tourism dollars.33

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What Global Warming Means for Wisconsin’s Waters and Fisheries

Photo Credit: istockphoto.com/Richard Gunion

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isconsin depends heavily on groundwater, on freshwater from inland lakes and the Great Lakes, and on rainfall for agriculture, drinking, and industrial use. Projected changes in weather and climate will affect all freshwater users in the state. Expected increases in evaporation rates and summer drought periods will diminish groundwater recharge, lower lake levels, dry up small streams, and inevitably shrink the amount of wetlands—resulting in poorer water quality and less wildlife habitat. Water levels of Lake Michigan, for example, are expected to drop 3 to 8 feet34 which would have a great impact on waterfront development, navigation, and shipping on the Great Lakes. Future pressures to extract and sell water from the Great Lakes would increase, exacerbating an already contentious debate. As a result of warmer air temperatures, model studies project that summer surface water temperatures in inland lakes will increase by 2 to 12ºF by the end of this century.35 The increase will not only lead to increased lake eutrophication (aging process), causing noxious algal blooms and degraded water quality, but will also ultimately reduce fish populations. Native plant and animal species will have widely differing responses to changing temperatures. Some will adapt to the new environment, some will expand their ranges to seek suitable habitat, and other populations will decline into extinction. Specifically, the warming of freshwater habitats will eliminate cold-water species, such as lake trout, brook trout, and whitefish in southern regions. In the north, coldwater habitats will be invaded by warmer-water species such as bluegill and smallmouth bass.36 It is projected that nearly half of the suitable habitats for cold-water species will be gone by 2100.37 This includes many of the popular trout streams favored for decades by anglers and for which Wisconsin is renowned. These disruptions are also likely to be compounded by invasions of nonnative organisms—such as the zebra mussel and Asian carp—which are capable of totally restructuring existing food chains and causing significant consequences for native fish communities.38 Fisheries management strategies will have to adapt to future range shifts and species extinctions in order to protect the remaining freshwater ecosystems. New policies and management practices, such as changes in catch sizes and bag limits, will have to be modified.

SOLUTIONS VOTE! As warnings about global warming increase, our elected officials need to make smart decisions toward reducing our carbon dioxide contributions (the major pollutant causing global warming). Get to know elected officials’ views on how they plan to reduce global warming and take your opinions to the voting booth.

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Losses in Agriculture

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n the surface, a longer growing season would appear to be beneficial to agricultural productivity; however, with the expected changes in rain patterns, the constraints of dry, thin, acidic soils in some parts of the state could outweigh the positive.39 Severe rainstorms and floods during planting and harvest seasons will likely depress crop productivity and increase soil erosion and runoff of agricultural waste. Similarly, hotter and drier conditions during the growing season will disrupt production by adding additional stress on field labor and pressure farmers to increase irrigation usage— even for currently rain-fed crops.40 Increases in crop loss are inevitable as new pests and diseases expand their ranges northward, and warmer, longer growing seasons facilitate the buildup of even larger pest populations. This could potentially drive farmers to use more pesticides and jeopardize the quality of our already limited water supply. Not only will a warmer climate affect crop production in Wisconsin, it will also affect the state’s livestock and dairy enterprises. Studies show that hot summer temperatures suppress appetite and decrease weight gain in livestock.41 Additionally, warmer winter temperatures and less snow coverage would reduce the quantity and quality of spring forage, and as a result, milk quality. The impacts of climate variability on farm-level risk of crop failure and livestock losses are greater for smaller, family farms than for industrialized production systems. Consequently, these changes will significantly affect local farming communities, and in turn, change the composition of Wisconsin’s rural landscape.

SOLUTIONS BUY WISCONSIN PRODUCTS Request locally-grown produce and Wisconsin-made products. By nature of geography, local products do not need to travel as far to make it into your home. Also, purchasing Wisconsin-made products supports our economy. Photo Credit: Wisconsin Department of Tourism

Photo Credit: Clipart.com

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The Deterioration of the Northwoods

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ommercial forestry is a substantial industry in northern Wisconsin, employing 74,000 workers and generating more than $18 billion in annual revenue. Global warming will drive changes in forest coverage and in the types of trees found in various parts of the state. During the transition, however, forest production and industries may suffer. Increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide and nitrogen could potentially spur forest growth in the short-term, but – as with agriculture - higher concentrations of ground-level ozone, more frequent droughts and fires, and increased risk from insect pests such as the gypsy moth and elm borer could damage long-term forest health. Warmer temperatures and longer growing seasons are likely to result in the northward movement of many tree species—including spruce and fir—and a general decline in the extent of boreal forests in the state.42 Furthermore, typical northern forests could completely disappear from Wisconsin, along with the eastern hemlock and sugar maple. The deterioration of Wisconsin’s Northwoods would be devastating for the region’s economy and sense of place.

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Photo Credit: istock.com/Sebastion Iovannitti

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ith a warmer climate comes extreme weather events—heavy downpours, floods, heat waves, droughts, tornadoes, snowstorms. Increased weather severity will put heavier burdens on emergency management, public works, and health care services and exact a growing financial cost from governments, businesses, and homeowners.43 More importantly, weather emergencies impact human health and raise concerns about disease control and possible weather-related mortalities. Health risks associated with extreme heat are expected to increase. During the summer of 1995, two killer heat waves affected most of Wisconsin. Together, they resulted in 154 heat-related deaths and probably 300 to 400 heat-related illnesses. These numbers will only increase with hotter temperatures. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency predicts that by the century’s end, Wisconsin residents will experience temperatures exceeding 97ºF up to 20 days annually and anticipates that a 3ºF warming could increase summer heat-related mortality by twofold.44 Climate plays a role in influencing the transmission of many seasonal infectious diseases such as Lyme disease or, more recently, West Nile encephalitis.45 Vectors of these diseases—ticks and mosquitoes—have, and will continue to expand their ranges with increasing temperatures. Future changes in rainfall or temperatures could encourage greater reproduction or survival of these disease-carrying insects. Some waterborne diseases such as cryptosporidiosis are also projected to become more frequent and widespread. Extended rainfall and runoff could overwhelm and flood municipal systems—as was the case in 1993 in Milwaukee when the city’s drinking water purification system was contaminated and caused 403,000 cases of intestinal illness and 54 deaths.46

Photo Credit: Clipart.com

Social and Health Related Concerns

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Local Solutions to a Global Problem

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SOLUTIONS JOIN CLEAN WISCONSIN

he well-being of the people of Wisconsin depends in large part on the continued health and viability of the ecosystems that surround us. The ecological processes and species that make up these ecosystems face increasing pressure from humaninduced climate changes. The Union of Concerned Scientists states, “As the population of Wisconsin increases, so too will the region’s contribution to changes in the atmosphere and, indirectly, climate.”47 Delays in addressing global warming only increase the eventual cost of doing so. Action taken now will not only lessen the potentially devastating impacts of global warming, but will also provide immediate benefits such as cleaner air and water, and improve the way of life in our communities. “Global warming” tends to be an overwhelming problem many people find impossible to combat on their own. But many solutions do exist that enable one person to make a difference. The biggest contribution we can make is to use less energy. Cutting fuel consumption by carpooling, using public transportation, walking, or biking to destinations, will reduce global warming emissions. Additionally, buying items with reusable, recyclable, or reduced packaging will help minimize pressures on the environment.48 Alternative sources of energy, such as solar and wind power, are available to supply homes and meet their energy needs instead of relying on electricity generated by burning coal or other fossil fuels. Homeowners can invest even more in energy-efficient appliances and proper home insulation to help reduce global warming emissions. Responding to the complexities of global warming will not be easy. With foresight, leadership and smart planning, Wisconsin can become a national leader in generating solutions to energy independence.

Join Clean Wisconsin and support work being done to reduce global warming. Annual memberships start as low as $15 and you can easily and securely register at www.CleanWisconsin.org, or by calling (608) 251-7020, extension 17.

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Bibliography and References 1

Kling et al. 2003. Confronting climate change in the Great Lakes Region: Impacts on our communities and ecosystems. Union of Concerned Scientists, Cambridge Massachusetts and the Ecological Society of America, Washington, D.C.

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Steig, E. et al. 2000. Wisconsinan and Holocene Climate History from an Ice Core at Taylor Dome, Western Ross Embayment, Antarctica. Geografiska Annaler, Series A: Physical Geography 82: 2-3.

Magnuson, John J., et al. 2006. Climate variability and ecosystem response at long-term ecological sites. In Long-Term Dynamics of Lakes in the Landscape. edited by J. Magnuson, T. Kratz, and B. Benson. New York: Oxford University Press.

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Crutzen, Paul. “Geology of Mankind,” Nature, vol. 415 (2002).

Magnuson, John J. et al. 2003. Wisconsin’s waters and climate: Historical changes and possible futures. Transactions of the Wisconsin Academy of Science, Arts and Letters 90:23-36. 25

Jorgensen, B.S. and R.C. Stedman. 2001. Sense of place as an attitude: Lakeshore owners’ attitudes towards their properties. Journal of Environmental Psychology 21: 233-248. 26

Kolbert, Elizabeth. Field Notes from a Catastrophe: Man, Nature, and Climate Change. Bloomsbury Publishing; New York and London, 2006. 4

James Hansen et al., “Earth’s Energy Imbalance: Confirmation and Implications,” Science, vol. 308 (2005). 5

IPCC (2001) Climate Change 2001. The scientific basis. Contribution of Working Group I to the Third Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. P. 39.

6

Robert Petit et al., “Climate and Atmospheric History of the Past 420,000 Years from the Vostok Ice Core, Antarctica,” Nature, vol. 399 (1999). 7

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19

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Magnuson, John J., et al. 2006. Climate variability and ecosystem response at long-term ecological sites. In Long-Term Dynamics of Lakes in the Landscape. edited by J. Magnuson, T. Kratz, and B. Benson. New York: Oxford University Press. 21

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Anderson, Wendy L. et al. 1996. Evidence of recent warming and ENSO variation in ice breakup of Wisconsin lakes. Limnology and Oceanography 41: 815-821. 23

Global Warming Arrives in Wisconsin

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www.CleanWisconsin.org


IT’S EASY BEING GREEN You don’t have to make drastic lifestyle changes to significantly decrease your contribution to global warming. Here are more of Clean Wisconsin’s tips on living a greener life.

1) Stop the junk mail Not only is junk postal mail annoying, it wastes paper and energy. Contact the firms sending you junk and ask to be removed from their lists. If you want to make an overarching request to get off specific junk mail lists, like catalogs or credit card offers, check out the following website for easy instructions: http://www.privacyrights.org/fs/fs4-junk.htm#getofflist.

2) Air your clean laundry There’s nothing like the freshness of clean sheets dried on an outside clothesline. Save energy by setting up an air drying system in your backyard or laundry room. Also, only run your washer when you have a full load and use the cold water setting whenever possible.

3) Tap it, tap it good Using tap water instead of buying bottled water is an easy way to save money and the energy otherwise used to make billions of those little plastic bottles. Also, refilling your own container helps prevent those bottles from ending up in your local landfill. The U.S. has some of the best water in the world; but for water connoisseurs, you can purchase a water filter for your tap.

4) Recycle your stuff Reusing items prevents the need for new items, which saves energy, materials and cash. Check out places in your area that offer to recycle your stuff. Whether it is a nonworking microwave that can be dissected for parts or a gently used piece of furniture, there are places and people who want your old things.

5) Change bulbs and power them green According to Focus on Energy, by changing your five most frequently used light bulbs to compact fluorescents (CFLs) you can save as much as $60 per year on utility bills. CFLs use 75% less energy than regular incandescent bulbs. Take it a step further and ask your utility company to supply you with energy from renewable sources. Many have solar or wind energy options available.

6) Less is more Purchase products with reduced, reusable or recyclable packaging – all options help decrease the amount of energy used to produce the package. Send a letter to the manufacturer of your favorite product and ask them to consider more environmentally friendly and minimalist packaging options.

Global Warming Comes to Wisconsin  

Global warming presents both a problem and an opportunity for the state of Wisconsin. Wisconsin is warming and discernable impacts have begu...

Global Warming Comes to Wisconsin  

Global warming presents both a problem and an opportunity for the state of Wisconsin. Wisconsin is warming and discernable impacts have begu...

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