When we see the video of polar bears pacing on a shrinking ice flow, we feel both empathy for the poor brutes and relief that the warming poles and their grisly realities are a long way from us.

I have been guilty of the smug feeling that, here in Wisconsin, I am far from the poles, far from the coasts.  No rising shorelines.  Hardly any scorching heat waves.  Lots of ground water and few cities to suck it up.

When I covered local government meetings for the Chicago Tribune, what always packed the house was a mob swelling with indignation over a NIMBY (not in MY back yard).

...Explore WICCI's interactive map at

Well Global Climate Change is looming over everyone’s back yard.  Here in idyllic Wisconsin, the toll is being recorded and predictions are being formulated.  Thanks to WICCI (Wisconsin Initiative on Climate Change Impacts) this state is one of the first to look closely at what is coming and how our farmers, businesses, public health officials, resource managers, municipalities and the rest of us can brace for the impact.

This was the topic of  the cover story I wrote for this week’s Isthmus, Madison’s cutting edge newspaper that keeps our town in the know.  I’m very proud of this one.  Please check it out.

It starts out:

Remember June 2008?

Madison recorded almost 11 inches of rain that month, easily breaking the previous June record set way back in 1869. Flood damage to homes, businesses, roads, bridges and water treatment plants in southern Wisconsin totaled $766 million, making it the most costly natural disaster in Wisconsin history.

This drenching came as no surprise to Steve Vavrus, a senior scientist at the UW-Madison Center for Climatic Research and a member of the WICCI Climate Working Group. “That was not a rogue thunderstorm,” he says confidently. “We will be seeing more of these in the future.”

In fact, we already have.

Read more

Read a little more the editor’s page

4 replies

  1. Denise –

    It’s an interesting article with lots of information. But the focus was entirely on Madison (Yes, I know that Madison is the center of the state!). Now how about writing an article that focuses on the larger state: changes in climate, changes in the landscape. For example, if temperatures are rising as you suggest in 40 years, that means Wisconsin will be moving rather quickly toward a landscape that looks more like Iowa’s. What would be the implications for recreation? And for farming? Indeed, you could write a series of articles for publication in newspapers in Madison, Milwaukee, Fox River cities, LaCross. The citizens of the Wisconsin need to know this information and you’re in a good position now to inform them. Go for it!

    • You are absolutely right, Dennis. This article was written specifically for a Madison audience. I wrote an earlier piece on the Midwest in general for Organic Broadcaster focusing on what climate change may mean for organic farming. And I have actually attended a number of lectures and spoken with researchers about some of the points you make.
      The effect on recreation, logging, and many other state concerns is already under way and will be transformative in many fields. Most of the trees now standing in the northern part of the state will not thrive.
      Wednesday I attended a lecture on what deer browse is doing to native plants including the northern forest, and it’s going to be a devastating one-two punch.
      I do want to write more about this issue on a statelevel. Wisconsin is amassing an amazing amount of information, and it needs to get out to the citizens, but I have to find the appropriate publications to do so.
      I’m working on it.
      The two other posts I’ve done with this info are

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