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Which of these best describes you position on climate change?

You should be alarmed. Climate change is a human-caused threat.

While you are concerned that climate change could be a serious threat to the United States, it is not a top concern for you.

You might be cautious and not sure if the threat is real.

Are you disengaged? Do you know very little about climate change, and hear very little about it?

It is doubtful that you don’t believe in global warming, or that it is a threat.

If you are dismissive and don’t believe that climate change is caused by humans, it’s probably a hoax.

This is how Yale Program on Climate Communication described Global Warmings Six Americas. Their most recent 2020 survey found that 26% of respondents were alarmed, and 29% were concerned. Climate change is a major concern for more than half of Americans. I am in the front line of the alarmed group, for the record.

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Recent polling by the University of Wisconsin-Madisons La Follette School of Public Affairs on state and national policy issues revealed that 5000 Wisconsin residents were surveyed. Climate change is the top issue for Wisconsin residents. 59% of respondents considered it to be a major problem or very important. The poll also found widespread support for solutions across the political spectrum.

It is important to note that climate change concerns are increasing in the US and Wisconsin. However, 2021 didn’t bring about strong, coordinated, national or international action for reducing human-caused carbon emissions and their devastating effects on our climate. The outlook for 2022 is not improving.

As many others, I hoped world leaders would surprise and join us at the UN Climate Change Conference in Glasgow, Scotland last November. Unfortunately, the two weeks of negotiations did not result in any substantive action. This is especially true for countries that contribute the least to global carbon emissions, but are still experiencing the brunt of extreme weather events caused by climate change.

Congress is being held back by partisan gridlock, and a lack of concern for climate change. President Biden’s Build back Better legislation has been stalled by several Senators of his own party. They now have much more power and seem to be enjoying the attention they get.

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Will the $550 million in climate change funding contained within Build Back Better be rescinded and presented to Congress as a separate law? This remains to be determined. It is possible to only hope that the House Committee on the Budget will find the support necessary to pass it. The House Committee on the Budget recently stated that the climate crisis is an existential danger that must be dealt with immediately to avoid the most devastating consequences. As extreme weather events become more severe, it will make life difficult for millions of families and put at risk more lives and livelihoods.

Many times, efforts to address climate change have been left to the municipalities, counties, and cities. Climate-related droughts, flooding, invasive species and wildfires have all been affecting local communities across the country. These communities cannot wait to see national and international leaders act.

The City of La Crosse is currently developing a Climate Action Plan. The goal is to have it completed by the end of this year and it will be “the City’s roadmap for achieving our GHG (GreenHouse Gas) emission reduction and climate resilience goals.” (https://lacrosseclimateactionplan.squarespace.com)

A number of community engagement meetings are currently taking place. Online community input survey is available. People can submit their stories via video, writing, or art about how they feel about climate change. Throughout the year, there will be more activities to engage the public. The Climate Action Plan Team, which includes staff from the City, members of public and consultants, is currently meeting to begin the development of the plan.

Our entire community must be involved in order for it to be successful and inclusive. This project should spark open discussion about how everyone in La Crosse can reduce greenhouse gas emissions, adapt to climate change, and help to make La Crosse a better place.

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