Scott Hackel Hiking
Scott Hackel hiking with his children. (Image: The Years Project)

Scott Hackel voices the concerns that a changing climate will make their children’s lives less fulfilling and much more expensive.

[Editor’s Note: For more stories in our “No Time to Lose” series, see our hub HERE.]

Scott Hackel treasures his memories growing up in Wisconsin, of summers spent building forts outdoors and traipsing through the woods, of winters sledding and skiing through the snow. 

But Hackel worries those outdoors experiences that symbolize the northwoods vibe that state residents love and that attracts others here will be adversely altered by changes in Wisconsin’s climate that threaten its future.

As Hackel reads predictions from scientists about climbing temperatures, more storms and flooding, and a growing prevalence of diseases caused by insects who flourish in warmer weather, he worries his two daughters and others won’t be able to enjoy the outdoors activities his home state is known for.    

“I want my daughters to have some of the same experiences that I had,” Hackel said. 

Changes in Wisconsin’s climate poses a significant threat to the state’s future, scientists say. In the next 30 years, the state’s average temperature is predicted to rise as much as 9 degrees. That hot, humid climate will, in turn, cause conditions in which disease-carrying ticks will spread. Already, cases of Lyme disease in the state have doubled during the past decade. 

Climate change also is predicted to create conditions spawning significantly more severe storms, causing increased flooding and damage to buildings. In recent years farmers have struggled to plant and harvest crops amid record wet weather. 

“It fills me with a sense of loss that something is going to be lost that we’ve had for generations in Wisconsin” Hackel said. 

Despite concerns expressed by scientists and people like Hackel, state and federal politicians have done little to address climate-related issues. In fact, during former Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s tenure, the state Department of Natural Resources removed all references to the words “climate change” in the agency’s publications. 

Hackel said he’s frustrated with politicians’ inaction regarding climate change. He decided to get involved and joined Citizen Climate Lobby, an environmental organization that advocates for legislative action to address climate change. Many people act as if climate change isn’t a major issue, he said, “but it is a really big deal.”

The fact that the climate has been altered is undeniable, Hackel said, and unless environmental issues are addressed sooner than later, future generations of Wisconsinites will be unable to enjoy the many outdoors opportunities the state offers. 

“It’s my kids who are going to have to pay, and their kids, for all of this,” he said. “Once climate change has an impact on the outdoors in Wisconsin that we’ve come to know and love, there’s no getting it back.”