Climate change isn’t hypothetical

Wisconsin state Sen. Tom Tiffany and Rep. Adam Jarchow do a commendable job of explaining the economic reasons why they take on the environmental left (Jan. 4 Guest column: “Bold change needed in natural resources policy”). However, environmental policies must also be based upon what is truly occurring in our world.

Sen. Tiffany recently stated it was appropriate for Wisconsin’s Department of Natural Resources to scrub its website of references to human-caused climate change “because climate change is a theoretical construct.”

But climate change isn’t hypothetical. In June of last year, 31 leading U.S. scientific organizations, including the American Meteorological Society, sent a letter to Congress calling for climate action and stating that climate change impacts in the United States already include greater threats of extreme weather events, sea level rise, water scarcity, heat waves, and wildfires. The American Association for the Advancement of Science states that the letter “reaffirmed the reality of human-caused climate change.”

Warmer air holds more water, and according to the National Climate Assessment, heavy precipitation events increased by 37 percent in the upper Midwest from 1958 to 2012. Record rainfall and flooding in northern Wisconsin this past July and in western Wisconsin in September caused millions of dollars in infrastructure damage as well as two fatalities.

In the aftermath of the flooding in western Wisconsin, friends from my hometown of Sparta commented it was the first time they had seen school called off because of rain

To deal with climate-driven threats, we first must recognize them. It’s essential for the DNR’s web site to represent the best available science.