Tag Archives: Climate Change

Climate Action: Local Challenges, Local Solutions

–submitted by Andrea Kaminski

At our online January 5 Rotary meeting, Dane County Executive Joe Parisi and WKOW-TV Senior Chief Meteorologist Bob Lindmeier spoke about the local challenges and solutions in Dane County related to climate change. Lindmeier set the stage as a qualified, trusted messenger with a passion for climate change education. He said the problem is simple, it has serious implications, and it is solvable. He cited ample peer-reviewed information to confirm that climate change is real and that it affects the natural environment, public health and economy of our area. Parisi outlined several initiatives instituted by Dane County government which are significantly offsetting the use of fossil fuels and saving taxpayers money. 

If you missed our meeting this week, you can watch it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z_Ib5JQbbvU&t=1558s

Club Learns How Climate Change Affects Local Weather

submitted by Jerry Thain

ankur_desaiDr.  Ankur Desai, professor of climate, people and environment at UW-Madison, addressed the first ever virtual meeting of the Club on the effect of climate change on local weather.  He stated that climate is personality, and weather is mood.

Looking at weather over the years, he noted a global trend, beginning in the 1980s, of higher temperatures.  This is caused by CO2 emissions which are raised by the use of fossil fuels.  He said CO2 is to climate change what steroid use was to baseball.  An increase in temperature up to 2 degrees Celsius has only modest impact, but above that level, it leads to significant and harmful consequences.  Policy changes could mitigate the damage by “flattening the curve” much as health experts urge us to do in attacking the current pandemic.  A major difference is that it will take decades to flatten the climate curve.

Turning to the influence of climate change on local weather, Dr. Desai showed the global decline of snow cover which, in itself, affects the temperature.  The meeting of snow/no snow lines influence weather fronts and increases the severity of storms.  Lesser snow over North America means most places get wetter and rainier–rain on frozen ground is more likely to cause storms than snow. Southern Wisconsin has seen wetter and rainier weather in recent years while northern Wisconsin has been drier. Some cold winter weather will still occur but at a much lower rate than in the past.

The problems caused by this will need to be addressed either by adaptions (such as moving homes from frequently flooded areas)  or by mitigation (reducing emissions significantly).  Unfortunately, there is no single “silver bullet” to solve things so all alternatives must be pursued by policymakers.

Dr. Desai cited recent research indicating, contrary to some beliefs, that climate change deniers are a very small proportion of the populace. Moreover, among people aged 18-30, climate change is either their first or second highest policy priority.  It is not possible to prevent all adverse effects, but we must take actions that will have some effect or be overcome by the problems.

He ended on a hopeful note, showing the sprouting of tree plants in an Australian forest area recently consumed by wildfires.  Earth will survive, but we need to help heal it for our own good.

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

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.

If you missed our meeting this week, you can watch the video here.  Our thanks to WisconsinEye for videotaping our meeting this week.

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly – Going Green Update

–submitted by Paul Riehemann

Going Green District Logo

The Good
We are happy to report that the Rotary International Constitution and Bylaws (C & B) Committee approved our Proposed Enactment after we amended it according to their suggestions.  RI legal staff has assured us it is unlikely that the RI Board would change any of the C & B’s recommendations at this point and it will be forwarded to the RI Council on Legislation in April 2016 for discussion and a vote.  Amended document HERE.

TRICON was terrific!  30 more Rotarians, many from Districts 6220 and 6270, signed on to Going Green (see new logo above).  Also, several Rotarians from The Sustainability Trust have signed on so now it’s an international fellowship group!

ESRAG header - 1

Paul will be representing the Going Green Fellowship at the Rotary International Convention in Sao Paulo, Brazil, this month, in support of the formation of a proposed Environmental Sustainability Rotarian Action Group.  His presence there is also important because it is the last RI Convention before the April 2016 Council on Legislation vote.  Job #1 will be sharing our Proposed Enactment and working to gain support.

The journey toward creating the Environmental Sustainability Rotarian Action Group (ESRAG) has begun.  What is a Rotarian Action Group?

Rotarian Action Groups help Rotary clubs and districts plan and carry out community development and humanitarian service projects in their area of expertise.

A main purpose of ESRAG:

Building awareness and generating action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and mitigate climate disruption.

Karen has been working with RI staff and met with them earlier this month in Evanston, Illinois.  Many thanks to member Jim Walsh with Insty-Prints for creating this smokin’ 32″ x 67″ display banner for Sao Paulo  for a fraction of the regular cost.  And, a ESRAG.ORG webpage is being created!  Will be ready next week.  Purpose:

  • share information on the GG initiative and Proposed Enactment
  • provide a way for Rotarians to sign up for ESRAG online – even with their phones!

The Bad

[We really wish there were not so many strong signals that developed countries need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions yesterday.]

It’s official: 2014 was the hottest year in recorded history, Washington Post, January 16, 2015

The Ugly

Climate Change: March Temperatures Break Records; 2015 Hottest Year  To Date, International Business Times, April 18, 2015

Indians Urged to Stay Indoors as Sweltering Heat Kills More Than 1,300, New York Times, May 27, 2015

“Temperatures surpassed 116 degrees in some places in recent days, and were higher than normal even in coastal districts that are typically cooled by easterly winds.”

in service,
Paul and Karen
Co-chairs Going Green Fellowship Group