Category Archives: Rotary Club of Madison Past Presidents

Prof. Jonathan Patz Describes Health Risks of Climate Change

–submitted by Jerry Thain; photo by Mike Engelberger

Jonathan Patz 7 12 2017On July 12, Professor Jonathan Patz, Director of the Global Health Institute at UW-Madison and a pioneer in researching global climate change and its consequences (he has been active in national and international programs in this area for more than two decades and received a Paul Harris fellow award at the RI annual meeting in Atlanta last month when he addressed a break-out session on the connection between extreme weather events and the explosion of the Zika virus)  described the health consequences of global climate change and his proposals for addressing these issues.

He began by noting that increasingly high temperatures world-wide have significant health consequences.  Climate disruption causes extreme heat waves, increased air pollution and increases in insect-borne and water borne diseases.  It adversely affects food supply and mental health.  Among many studies cited was one noting that US cities are likely to triple their annual number of 90 degree days by mid-century.  Yet, it is not just hotter temperatures that create havoc; the water cycle is altered and rain will fall in stronger fashion than before due to the increase in hot air.

Professor Patz said climate change should be approached as a health issue and noted its impact on energy and the food supply.  He stated that while moving to reduce carbon emissions has a cost, that can be out-weighed by benefits, citing a cost of $30 per ton of removed carbon dioxide emissions being off-set by a benefit of more than $200 in the reduction of air pollution – pollution which causes 7 million deaths a year now.  Moreover, the costs of wind and solar energy are dropping rapidly.  He also cited studies indicating that simply substituting bike rides for auto trips of 2 and 1/2 miles or less in the summer could save 1300  lives annually as well as 8 billion dollars.  As to employment concerns, he noted that far more people are already employed in energy work not related to fossil fuels than are employed by the oil and gas industries.

Although the United States has stated it will be the only major nation not to continue to adhere to the Paris climate accords, it cannot officially leave the agreement until Nov. 4, 2020, and a huge number of US cities and other jurisdictions are expressing adherence to its principles and lobbying to continue to abide by it.  The new RI president has said response to climate change should be a major cause for the organization.  There is a moral issue here because poorer countries are most gravely harmed by climate change when they have been the least responsible for it.  Historically, the United States has been most responsible for the emissions that are a major cause of climate change although China now surpasses us in pollution  (China, however, is taking major steps to increase its reliance on solar energy.)

Professor Patz concluded by noting that full implementation by every nation of the goals of the Paris accords would be insufficient to resolve the problems created by it.  Individual citizens and non-governmental organizations must move to substitute cleaner energy for fossil fuel reliance and develop a healthier society.

Seventh Generation Land Ethics

–submitted by Stan Inhorn; photo by Karl Wellensiek

Patty Loew

Past President Tim Stadelman and Patty Loew

Patty Loew, an Ojibwe scholar and UW Professor, described insights developed over many years of study of Native practices and beliefs regarding the land on which they live. These insights are common to members from all 12 Wisconsin Native nations. The unifying theme of land stewardship is that there is a spiritual connection with the land, the waters, the animals and the plants. They live close to the land, so they can be the first to recognize changes resulting from human practices and industry.

Christians, Moslems and Jews regard holy places such as churches as sacred, but they also have portable holy items such the Rosary or the Star of David. These followers of the Abrahamic religions have a disconnect in identifying certain bodies of water or wild rice as being sacred. The  entire society of the Ojibwe and Menomonee nations recognize that wild rice lasts forever and is therefore a super food when other sources are not available. In essence, Native peoples pray for sacred spaces that are necessary for assuring the continuation of life on earth.

When Europeans landed in America, it was necessary for treaties to be negotiated in order to preserve the right to hunt and fish. Restricted to Reservations of limited acreage, Natives knew that the Reservation would not sustain the people, so that hunting and fishing outside the boundaries would  be required. In recent years, other more dangerous intrusions have threatened the Natives existence. One example is the proposal for large open-pit taconite mines. The processing of this low-grade iron ore would result in sulfuric acid flowing into wild rice fields and potentially even into Lake Superior. The long-range vision of the Native religion considers how any decision would affect the seventh generation in the future.

The Ho-Chunk Nation in particular is concerned that Frac-Sand Mining is contaminating the air, the land and the water — all of which are considered sacred sites. Lung disease has been attributed to this form of mining. The Red Cliff Ojibwe are concerned that large industrial animal installations possess a real threat of manure contamination of land and streams.  The latest proposed legislation dealing with commercial land development that disturbs the Ho-Chunk nation regards the authority to excavate sacred burial mounds to determine if human skeletons are truly present. Unless one recognizes the religious beliefs and ethics of Native Americans, one cannot appreciate their viewpoint in opposing legislation that affects not only their interests but the welfare of the environment that includes all of us.

If you missed our meeting this week, you can watch the video here.

Past Presidents Dinner September 17

–submitted by Melanie Ramey; photos by Rob Stroud and Karl Wellensiek

Front Left: Tim Stadelman, Tom Popp, Dick Olson, Melanie Ramey & Bob Dinndorf; Back Left: Bob Sorge, Paul Riehemann, Wes Sparkman, Dave Mollenhoff, Larry Smith, Ted Long, Perry Henderson, Rob Stroud, Jim Ruhly and Karl Wellensiek

Front Left: Tim Stadelman, Tom Popp, Dick Olson, Melanie Ramey & Bob Dinndorf; Back Left: Bob Sorge, Paul Riehemann, Wes Sparkman, Dave Mollenhoff, Larry Smith, Carol Toussaint, Ted Long, Perry Henderson, Rob Stroud, Jim Ruhly and Karl Wellensiek

The inaugural meeting of the Past Presidents Anonymous (PPA) Organization was held on September 17 at The Madison Club.  About half of the extant past presidents were in attendance.  The name Past Presidents Anonymous was chosen as it is apropos because one may never fully recover from the experience.

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(Photo 1: Jim Ruhly and Bob Dinndorf; Photo 2: [from left] Tim Stadelman, Bob Sorge and Wes Sparkman)

Members shared some of the challenging experiences of their presidency.  There was a lot of good humor and fellowship.  One person spoke movingly as to how helpful some of the presidents had been to him when he was experiencing a difficult time.  Others spoke of how helpful it was to know that we could seek out the counsel and help of each other as well as other club members.

It was decided that the group would meet annually.  A special thanks to Karl Wellensiek who instigated the idea and handled the arrangements for the occasion.  The meeting concluded with Dick Olson telling an Ole and Lena joke and the taking of a group picture which will hopefully be photoshopped.

For a full listing of our past presidents, refer to pages 4-5 of our current membership roster.