Thursday, August 30, 2018

Donne said 'no man is an island.' Isthmus just found one.

A few comments on Dylan Brogan's must-read piece in the current Isthmus about flooding in Madison before I get to John Donne.

Brogan's reporting gets Walker on the record about climate change - - a rare feat in itself -- and exposes Walker's defensive, talking point superficiality on a matter he's dismissed that is contributing to tens of millions of dollars in repetitive events, and has again killed state residents.

Brogan wrote:
Marston Avenue resident Bob Spoerke spent the last week watching the Tenney Park lagoon creep up to the sidewalk in front of his house. He says he questioned the governor about the state Department of Natural Resources purging language on its website attributing climate change to human activities and rising levels of carbon dioxide. He also told the governor that climate change was real. 
“[Walker] looked at me and said ‘that’s your opinion.’ But climate change isn’t my opinion, it’s established fact,” says Spoerke. “I’ve been agitated ever since. There’s been two catastrophic floods in northern Wisconsin the past three years. These 100- and 500-year events are happening every few months.”
I was also happy to see Brogan bring the UW-Madison's Center for Limnology lab into the discussion, given its status in lake science and karmic proximity to the Madison area's flooding problems.
Emily Stanley, a professor at UW-Madison’s Center for Limnology, says the potential for flooding in the Madison area is nothing new. But she and other scientists warn that climate change could make severe storms — and, by extension, flooding — more common. 
“What’s different is double-digit inches of rainfall in such a short period of time,” she says. “When you add the water really, really quickly, it’s like if you eat Thanksgiving dinner in five minutes. It doesn’t feel the same as it would if you ate it over the course of a few hours.”
Like the DNR he has weakened, and the Wisconsin Initiative on Climate Change Impacts he disconnected from the DNR's climate change web page which Walker had censored, the Limnology resource is another state asset his corrosive lack of curiosity leaves unexamined to our collective harm.

I noted a bit of this a few months ago after Walker had posted what was essentially a tourist's photo of Lake Mendota on his twitter page, so I wrote:
That's the UW-Madison campus across the lake, to the west. You can't see it in the photo, of course, but on the campus shoreline sits an historic institution, the UW Center for Limnology. 
Limnology is the study of lakes; the science was basically founded on the UW Campus and Lake Mendota is often said to be the most-studied lake in the country. 
Lake Mendota is not just your run-of-the-mill lake among Wisconsin's 15,000. It's is a huge, unique climate change laboratory where experts examine the lake's temperature, depth, fish population, responses to climate change and other features widely studied for more than the postcard-pretty photo opportunity Walker liked to snap... 
And it was on the Limnology school's blog just over a year ago that UW professors blasted Walker's DNR for having scrubbed ciimate change data and science - - facts impacting Lake Mendota and other bodies of water in Wisconsin which Walker does not see or appreciate from official state websites - - and I will italicize what is most relevant right now among eight connected scientific and economic findings the experts had listed:
* Increases in extreme rain events are increasing runoff from farm fields into downstream waterways and lakes, reducing water quality. 
But the real gem, the must-memoralize keeper in Brogan's report, is how Walker tried to sucker a citizen into cursing the governor that would have been immediately amplified by the right-wing noise machine to distort and deflect the story away from climate science and flooding to 'bad liberal insults hard-working governor.'
Tom Kasper, a resident of Elizabeth Street, held a sign behind Walker that accused the governor of staging a photo op while ignoring climate change.
Another man biked up to Walker to confront him: “Gov. Walker, I want to say that your time and energy would be much better spent enacting policies to counteract climate change rather than shoveling sand into bags. Would you agree?”
“Glad you’re here. Thanks for watching,” replied Walker. “You can say what you want. You can call me a F-word if you want.”
“I’m not doing that,” the man countered. “I’m just saying climate change policy would be more effective than shoveling sand. Otherwise, you’ll be out here next year, too.”
You can see that the man on the bike did not take the bait. But because Walker had the trick at the ready, you can see just why in fact he is on John Donne's island.

And that it's of his own making.

And that it will take more than a shovel for him find his way off.

And may it help Donne's bell toll come election day.

Props again to Dylan Brogan and Isthmus for the outstanding report.
Man on an island. Judith Davidoff photo also credited here.


George H. said...

Dylan Brogan does good work.

Anonymous said...

One aspect of increased rains and flooding that has not been discussed is the effect on toxic waste sites. The heavier flows tend to push the chemicals into the groundwater/aquifers at a greater rate. You can of course be sure that nobody at the DNR(assuming anybody is left to even turn on the lights) has looked at the potential problems. Wisconsin had a very poor record of keeping track of where industry etc. was dumping and burying the toxic remainders of there businesses. What we do know is that the Southeastern Wisconsin area has historically been heavily industrialized for well over a century and certainly increased rains, floodwaters and run-off from Foxconn and related development will not decrease any risks we face. Here is an article from Bloomberg about Miami facing some of these very issues with toxic sites.

Jake formerly of the LP said...

Great stuff today from State Senate candidate Kriss Marion, who is running in District 17, which includes Reedsburg, La Valle, and Juneau County, who were also hit by record flooding this week.

Not only does Marion bring up the need for natural barriers and adjustments for these record rains, she also calls out incumbent Sen Howard Marklein, who has gone along with Walker in every measure that makes the damage from these record rains even worse.