Panel Discusses Climate Change

A panel talking about climate change was held at the Benjamin Franklin Junior High auditorium on Tuesday, April 1 from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.

The panel consisted of experts who discussed how Wisconsin is being affected by climate change. Four panelists each gave a speech and then answered questions from the audience.

“The event addressed the impact of climate change on Wisconsin hunting and fishing,” said Michael Notaro, the associate director of the Center for Climate Research at University of Wisconsin-Madison.

The panelists speaking at the event included Notaro, George Meyer, the executive director of the Wisconsin Wildlife Federation, Matt Mitro, a fisheries scientist for the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, and Ben Zuckerberg, a professor of wildlife ecology at UW-Madison.

Mitro, Notaro, and Zuckerberg are all affiliated with the Wisconsin Initiative on Climate Change Impacts, which was created through UW-Madison’s Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies and the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.

“My presentation addressed Wisconsin climate change,” Notaro said. “I introduced the Wisconsin Initiative on Climate Change Impacts and discussed historical trends in Wisconsin temperature, precipitation, extreme cold, spring arrival and growing season length.”

Notaro also described the trend toward an earlier spring. He summarized the possible causes of the rapid warming of the Great Lakes, presented future projections of temperature, precipitation, snowfall, lake ice cover and lake-effect snow, described the potential for an increase in extreme snowstorms, and summarized potential wildlife impacts.

“The target audience was quite diverse,” Notaro said. “I personally promoted it to UW-Stevens Point, hunting and fishing organizations, the Wisconsin Initiative on Climate Change Impacts, Wisconsin DNR, tribal organizations, Aldo Leopold Foundation, EE in Wisconsin, along with our sponsors. The presentations were pertinent to anyone who cares about the climate, natural resources, and wildlife of our state, which is pretty broad.”

As associate director of the Nelson Institute Center for Climatic Research, Notaro has devoted his career to better understand climate variability and climate change, its impacts on society and the environment, and the potential for developing effective adaptation strategies to protect resources.

“Climate change is a serious concern, both globally and regionally, and must be addressed both through mitigation and adaptation,” Notaro said. “The scientific community has little doubt on the existence and cause of this environmental crisis and we strongly encourage the media, government, and general public to trust our carefully researched findings on climate change and take action.”

Notaro believes that attending the event benefited the audience by teaching them about climate change and its potential future impacts on wildlife.

“The panelists are known experts in climate and wildlife sciences with substantial experience in presenting their research and experience to the public through outreach opportunities,” Notaro said. “My presentation covered recent research on historical climate change in Wisconsin and the Midwest/Great Lakes region and future projections using global and regional climate models.”

Notaro’s discussion on future changes of the state’s snowfall and lakes hit home for those who love Wisconsin’s winters and winter sports.

“The information on climate change and impacts to wildlife hopefully motivated the audience to advocate to policymakers to address the ongoing environmental crisis through mitigation and adaptation,” Notaro said.

Notaro represented both the Nelson Institute Center for Climatic Research at UW-Madison and the Wisconsin Initiative on Climate Change Impacts.

“I greatly enjoy presenting my research on climate change to the public and having two-way conversations on the findings, implications, and the audience’s personal experiences,” Notaro said. “I had never presented specifically to a hunting and fishing community so I was looking forward to what reception our presentations would receive and their perspectives on climate change.”

The panel was co-sponsored by the UWSP Wisconsin Center for Environmental Education, the Citizens’ Climate Lobby-Central Wisconsin Chapter, Wisconsin Wildlife Federation, Aldo Leopold Audubon Society, 350-Stevens Point, Friends of the Little Plover River, Interfaith Community for the Earth, Trout Limited-Frank Hornberg Chapter and the North Central Conservancy Trust.

Rachel Pukall




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