Report: Droughts, Floods and Heat Waves Could be Wisconsin’s New Normal

, By Clean Wisconsin

MADISON — Communities across Wisconsin should prepare for more droughts, floods and heat waves like the ones experienced in 2012, according to a new report released today by the state’s largest environmental advocacy organization, Clean Wisconsin.

“With crop-killing drought plaguing most of the state, intense flooding in Northern Wisconsin, and relentless heat waves, 2012 was a year of unprecedented weather events in Wisconsin,” said Katy Walter, clean energy specialist at Clean Wisconsin and lead author ofThe New Normal: Predicting Climate Impacts and Building Resilient Communities. “Unfortunately, top climate scientists predict that intense weather events like the ones we saw this year will become increasingly common as the climate warms.”

Using research from the Wisconsin Initiative on Climate Change Impacts (WICCI), the report illustrates how climate change could negatively impact agriculture, tourism and public health in the state. Specifically, the report highlights how climate change could:

·      Decrease Wisconsin’s crop production as the result of drought, new pests and diseases;

·      Cost Wisconsin’s dairy industry millions in lost revenue due to heat stress in cows;

·      Threaten public health by exacerbating air pollution, harming water quality and increasing vector-borne diseases such as West Nile virus and Lyme disease;

·      Hurt tourism and decrease recreational opportunities such as skiing, ice fishing, snowmobiling and trout fishing;

·      Lower water levels in the Great Lakes; and

·      Increase flooding in communities across the state.

“The impacts of climate change are far-reaching and promise to significantly alter life in Wisconsin,” explains Walter. “This report was not written to scare residents; it is intended to outline changes we can expect to see and help Wisconsin communities prepare for, and minimize, the impacts of climate change.”

One example of a community adapting to changes in the climate is Milwaukee. Here, the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District (MMSD) is upgrading its stormwater system and investing in green infrastructure and land conservation projects. These investments will help reduce flooding and sewer overflows associated with heavy rain events.

“By acting today to prepare for the impacts of climate change, communities across Wisconsin can become more resilient and pave a path toward a stronger, more secure future,” says Walter.