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Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Wild Wisconsin weather demands action

From a commentary by Donald J. Wuebbles and Jack Williamson published in The Capital Times:

It's been a hot start to 2012. Over Memorial Day weekend, new high-temperature records were set in 16 states and across Wisconsin. High temperatures from Kenosha to Reedsburg surpassed 90 degrees — the hottest May 28 temperature in more than 100 years of record-keeping.

Chicago, Detroit, Cleveland, South Bend, Ind. and Pittsburgh all hit record highs as well.

In March, more than 15,000 warm weather records across our country were broken. Wisconsin had its warmest March in recorded history as locals swapped winter coats for shorts and enjoyed 80-degree afternoons. Meanwhile, other areas of the state endured tornadoes tossing multi-ton trailers around like children's toys. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration received 223 reports of tornadoes when 80 tornadoes is the March norm. . . .

Fortunately, there are steps we can take to adapt to and mitigate climate change.

We can grow America's investments in renewable energy, powering more homes with wind and solar energy. We can use better appliances and equipment that avoid wasting energy and save us money on utility bills. We can manufacture and drive more fuel efficient cars that save us money at the gas pump, lessen America's dependence on foreign oil, and reduce greenhouse gas pollution.

We can invest in building a Midwest high-speed passenger rail system that improves mobility, reduces pollution, creates jobs and pulls together the regional economy. We can improve infrastructure that makes trains and other public transit work better and bicycle riding a safer option for commuters. . . .

Donald J. Wuebbles is a professor of atmospheric sciences as well as electrical and computer engineering at the University of Illinois. Jack Williams is director of the Center for Climatic Research Geography at UW-Madison.

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