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Our Environment at Ris: Climate Concerns Lead To Local Action | Columnists
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Our Environment at Ris: Climate Concerns Lead To Local Action | Columnists

Which of these best describes you position on climate change?

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

Although you are concerned about climate change, it is not as important as other issues facing America.

Perhaps you are cautious and are unsure if it is real or a threat.

Are you disconnected and don’t know much about climate change?

It is highly doubtful that you do not believe in global heating or its threat.

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

This is how Yale Program on Climate Communication describes Global Warmings Six Americas. According to their latest 2020 survey, 26% were alarmed and 29% were worried. 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. The results showed that climate change is the most important issue facing Wisconsin residents. 59% of respondents ranked it as a very big problem or a very serious problem. There is widespread support from all political parties for solutions to climate changes.

It is important that we note the rising concern about climate change in the US, Wisconsin, and elsewhere. Unfortunately, 2021 has not seen strong, unified, national, or international action to reduce carbon emissions from humans and their devastating impact on our climate. The outlook for the year 2022 is not better.

Like many others, I hoped that world leaders would surprise me at the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26), held last November in Glasgow, Scotland, and bring together to address climate change as the global threat it is. True to form, the two-week-long negotiations resulted in no substantive action. This is especially difficult to accept for countries that contribute less to the planet’s cumulative carbon emissions but feel the brunt of extreme weather conditions exacerbated by climate.

Congress is being held back by partisan gridlock, and a lack of concern for climate change. President Biden’s Build Back Better legislation is being stalled by Senators from his party, who now have more power than they need and seem to be enjoying the attention it has received.

Will the $550 million in climate change funding contained within Build Back Better be rescinded and presented to Congress as a separate law? It remains to be seen. We can only hope that it gets the support it needs. According to the House Committee on the Budget’s recent report, the climate crisis is an urgent threat that must not be ignored if we want to avoid the worst. The delay in taking action will only make life more difficult for millions of people and increase the risk of losing their livelihoods and lives as extreme weather events intensify.

Many times, efforts to address climate change have been left to the municipalities, counties, and cities. Climate-related long droughts, unprecedented flooding, invasive and wildfires, and other climate-related issues have been faced by local communities all 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.” (

There are currently a number of community engagement events being held. Online community input survey is available. People can submit their stories via video, writing, or art about how they feel about climate change. The year will see more activities for the public to engage them. To begin developing the Climate Action Plan, a Climate Team Team of City staff, members of society and consultants is meeting currently.

It is essential that the entire community participates in order to make it effective and inclusive. This project should stimulate open discussions about how all members of La Crosse, including families, neighborhoods, businesses and government, can reduce greenhouse gas emission and adapt to the impacts of climate change.

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