Saturday, January 28, 2017

On climate science, WI DNR's Cathy Stepp out of step

Here's a sequence of events to add to your "What They're Missing About Climate Change" file begun, perhaps, when you learned that Wisconsin DNR Secretary Cathy Stepp had recently overseen the removal of climate change information from another of the agency's climate change web pages - - the one that covered Great Lakes climate change.
Wisconsin DNR Secretary Cathy Stepp proudly shows off her first deer, taken opening weekend last year. In the upcoming TV Special "Deer Hunt Wisconsin 2012, Stepp urges male hunters to take more girls and women hunting. "The secret's out," she says. "Hunting is a lot of fun, so don't keep it to yourselves."  photo courtesy of Wisconsin DNR

Pay attention to the contrasting attention to detail below:

*  On December 12, 2016 the US-Canadian International Joint Commission, the Great Lakes management body created by a 1909 treaty, published, as if often does, some interesting reports. 

One was titled:
The State of Climate Change Science in the Great Lakes Basin
Climate change is posing significant risks to communities, health and well-being, the economy, and the natural environment. These impacts are expected to become more severe, unless concerted efforts to reduce emissions are undertaken.
Climate change effects are being experienced in the Great Lakes. Effects observed across the basin include warming temperatures, changing precipitation patterns, decreased ice coverage, and variations to historic fluctuations of water levels. For example, over the last 60 years (1950-2010), the Great Lakes basin has experienced an increase in average annual air temperatures between 0.8-2.0 degrees C (1.4-3.6 F), with this warming trend projected to continue, according to a 2015 State of Climate Change Science in the Great Lakes basin report...
Recognizing the potential impacts of climate change on Great Lakes water quality and ecosystem health, Canada and the United States incorporated a Climate Change Impacts Annex in the 2012 Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement (GLWQA). The Annex is focused on coordinating efforts to identify, quantify, understand, and predict climate impacts on the quality of waters of the Great Lakes, and sharing information that Great Lakes resource managers need to proactively address these impacts. Implementation of this Annex is led by Environment and Climate Change Canada and US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. 
*  A second December 12, 2016 report, featuring Toronto and Milwaukee, was titled:
Great Lakes Cities Prepare for a Changing Climate
On the opposite end of the Great Lakes is Milwaukee, where officials believe the greatest threat from climate change is an increased risk of severe storms causing major flooding. Milwaukee suffered “100-year storms” in 2008 and 2010 that caused stormwater and sanitary sewer system back-ups and subsequent backflows into people’s homes. Erick Shambarger, environmental sustainability director for Milwaukee’s Environmental Collaboration Office, said the city put together a “flooding study task force” following the 2010 storm – recognizing that severe storms are on course to become more frequent in the future. Milwaukee’s sewer infrastructure isn’t built to withstand storms of that magnitude, he said. 
The city is tackling the problem in multiple ways. Milwaukee has implemented a “Green Streets Stormwater Management Plan,” Shambarger said. That means any time a street is reconstructed due to pothole or pavement issues, it is inspected to see what sort of infrastructure would work there to contend with major rain events...  
The Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District has its own project to help deal with flood risks with the County Grounds Basin, a way of containing heavy amounts of rain in a specific area to avoid floods. The $90 million project can retain and store 315 million gallons of water during a severe storm, bringing excess water from the Underwood Creek into the basin by way of an underground tunnel... 
Elsewhere in the city, Shambarger said officials are considering converting unoccupied, abandoned and foreclosed properties into storm reservoirs, channeling that backflow floodwater to those properties’ basements to spare occupied homes...The basements would be covered with turf after the house is demolished so that it can better fit in within the neighborhoods. 
Shambarger added that Milwaukee officials also are interested in combating the “heat island effect,” where the pavement causes the area around it to get hotter than it would otherwise. This could include removing pavement, which in turn helps the stormwater runoff issue... 
Milwaukee has set up a Better Buildings Challenge to cut energy use in commercial buildings throughout the city, offering free assessments and loan financing to building owners that want to upgrade their properties. These can range from adding renewable energy sources to improving energy or water efficiency. Shambarger said the city also has residential programs to help homeowners purchase solar panels for their homes or to secure loans for energy efficiency upgrades, and is working to improve energy efficiency at manufacturing plants. 
“Everything we’re talking about is adapting to climate change, but that’s all in addition to work on energy efficiency and climate mitigation,” Shambarger said.
*  On December 22, 2016, I noticed and reported that the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources had the previous day heavily edited its web page on climate change and the Great Lakes by deleting all references to the human influences on climate change as well as all uses of the words "climate change" from the page.

*  On December 29, 2016, DNR spokesman James Dick verified the web page editing and said to Madison TV station WKOW, Channel 27 that the DNR knew climate change was no longer being debated among climate scientists:

"Yes, we are aware of that...," Dick said. 
*  On January 10th, Dick also confirmed that the DNR page had been edited following an inquiry from a conservative staffer at a central Wisconsin weekly newspaper:
The Lakeland Times reported that Wisconsin's environmental protection agency removed information saying humans and greenhouse gases are the main causes of climate change two days after the newspaper raised the issue with Secretary Cathy Stepp.
“After questioning from The Lakeland Times, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources has changed its climate-change web page to reflect a policy of neutrality on its causes and effects, rather than embracing the dramatic manmade hypothesis the web page has touted since the Doyle administration,” the paper reported on Friday.
DNR spokesman Jim Dick on Monday acknowledged the paper raised the issue with [Secretary Cathy] Stepp during an interview.
"The Lakeland Times reporter did bring that particular Great Lakes web page to our attention during a phone call on other matters," Dick said in an email. "We reviewed it and decided to update it as we’ve stated in previous statements."

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