OPINION It’s been eight years since anyone in the Wisconsin executive branch of government uttered the words “climate change.” Thankfully Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers brought science, common sense and the term climate change back to Wisconsin.
Since the 1970s Wisconsin governors have shaped our nation’s conservation legacy. In my office over my desk hangs an iconic poster from Wisconsin Gov. Gaylord Nelson’s campaign. The man from Clear Lake, Wisconsin, was ahead of his time. He did all he could to raise awareness that the earth is worth protecting.
This week we celebrate Earth Day. From recycling to burning less fossil fuels, we already felt responsible to preserve and protect our world from our destructive behaviors in 1970, when Earth Day was recognized. It was Gov. Nelson who created the concept of Earth Day as a reminder to us all that we need to do our part.
The 1970s was a decade marked with milestone environmental changes for our country. President Richard Nixon proposed the creation of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Congress passed the Clean Water Act and amended the Clean Air Act. At the same time oil companies were conducting research about how burning fossil fuels affect our climate.
Western Wisconsin and our state as a whole is not immune to the effects of climate change. What was considered flooding that should only occur once every hundred years is now happening annually in Wisconsin. Our country is experiencing fiercer tornados and hurricanes. Long droughts out west are creating dangerous fire conditions. Globally we are experiencing stronger and more frequent earthquakes and tsunamis.
The damage may be irreversible. We need to change our habits. It takes everyone to pitch in if we are going to make a difference.
It’s encouraging to see so many municipalities adopt the Paris Climate Agreement even if the White House pulls the United States out. Even our governor is pitching in by including big changes in his budget proposal to reduce our carbon footprint here in Wisconsin. Evers’ budget includes a provision setting a goal of 100-percent-carbon-free electricity generation by 2050 in Wisconsin. He also proposes using the Volkswagen-emissions settlement funds for purchasing new public buses, and installing new electric car charging stations.
We can all play a part. We must all play a part. If we err when making decisions on education or health care or transportation, we can fix it. But if we poison our water, air and earth, we cannot fix it. Think about how we leave this earth for generations to come. Every day needs to be Earth Day.