Letter from the Editor: A Changing Climate Is Hurting Wisconsin

A changing climate has brought extreme weather to Wisconsin which has impacted farming, winter tourism, hunting and fishing, shoreline and infrastructure damage, and much more.



By Pat Kreitlow

September 16, 2020

‘No Time to Lose: A Wisconsin Family Meeting on Climate’ shows the personal and business stakes of putting our planet in peril.

To go right to our collection of stories in the “No Time to Lose” series, click HERE.

Few issues make an individual feel so small and powerless as the global crisis of our changing climate. 

When you see the massive fires out west, or the ever-stronger hurricanes to our south, or the frighteningly rapid melt of ice at our poles, it’s easy to feel intimidated. After all, how can a problem affecting the entire planet possibly earn proper attention at the community level or even the family level? What can you or I, in a small town or a big Wisconsin city, do about it?

Melissa Gavin had an honest answer for her village board in Dane County: “I don’t know. But we have to try.”

Since then, Melissa and many others have discovered that the only way to solve a problem this big is through a steady build-up of individual actions. 

Yes, nations can have policies, states can have goals, companies can have metrics. But none of them can be fulfilled until some individuals take action—in official capacities, workplaces, hometowns, and households. And that action won’t happen until enough individuals see the impact of a changing climate not only in faraway disaster zones but in their own hometowns.

Linda Herscher understands how Wisconsin fits into the larger problem. A third-generation resort owner, she has seen how winter tourism has been impacted as a warming planet means there are many more days when the snowmobile trails around her in Barron County are not in use.

Dr. Joel Charles, a family medicine physician in Soldiers Grove, came to appreciate the problem as he held his newborn son the night a 13-inch rainfall flooded parts of southwest Wisconsin. Thinking of people whose lives are put in danger by extreme weather, he recognized that a changing climate is truly a public health problem.

With each “hundred-year flood” that seems to come with increasing frequency, crops don’t get planted or harvested. It might not lead to a food shortage in, say, Plover, Wisconsin, but it’s that much less corn, soybeans, or other food that could be exported to places where hunger is more widespread.

A changing climate is indeed a Wisconsin problem. We don’t need to take people 22,000 miles up in space to show how human activity has made the atmosphere thinner and surface temperatures warmer. The evidence is all around us that a serious problem must be addressed.

That’s why we’re calling a family meeting— to focus attention on a matter that needs everyone’s attention.

UpNorthNews collaborated with The Years Project to bring you “No Time to Lose: A Wisconsin Family Meeting on Climate,” a series of stories and videos over the next two weeks designed to take this important global issue down to the level of every Wisconsin family. 

Through multi-generational storytelling, we will be demonstrating how awareness leads to concern, advocacy leads to action, and leadership leads to solutions.

We’ll also report on how the climate is being discussed by the candidates in the presidential race and actions that have been taken over the past three years by the Trump administration.

At its conclusion, our goal is to make you aware of the Wisconsin impact from a changing climate, but also—more importantly—to appreciate that we are not powerless. We can make positive changes that will improve our future, and that of generations to come.


  • Pat Kreitlow

    The Founding Editor of UpNorthNews, Pat was a familiar presence on radio and TV stations in western Wisconsin before serving in the state Legislature. After a brief stint living in the Caribbean, Pat and wife returned to Chippewa Falls to be closer to their growing group of grandchildren. He now serves as UNN's chief political correspondent and host of UpNorthNews Radio, airing weekday mornings 6 a.m.-8 a.m on the Civic Media radio network and the UpNorthNews Facebook page.



Local News

Related Stories
Share This