Every four years, the world’s finest winter athletes gather for the top competition on snow and ice. But even as we celebrate competition and athleticism, global warming is undermining the climate conditions that make the Winter Olympics possible.
Nine of the hottest years ever recorded on Earth have happened since 2000.i Winter average temperatures across the contiguous United States have warmed more than 2 degrees Fahrenheit since 1970.ii The primary cause of this warming is human use of fossil fuels and we need to act now to prevent the worst from happening.
Factory farms are polluting Wisconsin’s treasured waterways. Runoff laced with pollution from animal manure contaminates the state’s lakes and rivers, and the number of factory farms in the state is rapidly increasing. The agencies charged with keeping Wisconsin’s water clean have issued more and more water permits to industrial farming operations every year, even though livestock operations have already polluted thousands of acres of lakes and hundreds of miles of rivers. The state’s failure to protect our waterways from factory farming is the result of years of lobbying by powerful corporate agribusiness interests. Since 2007, corporate agribusiness interests have spent $427,000 on campaign contributions and $4.4 million on lobbying to get their way in Madison.
To protect Wisconsin’s precious lakes and rivers, state officials must stand up to pressure from factory farming lobbyists, refuse to permit new factory farms, and
ensure that existing ones follow the law. Pollution from factory farms is a growing threat to Wisconsin’s treasured lakes and rivers. Stormwater runoff from fields and livestock operations carries pollutants from manure into Wisconsin’s lakes and rivers. This can harm wildlife and public health – creating algal blooms that kill fish, destroy wildlife habitat, and contaminate drinking water.
Solar energy is on the rise. America has more than three times as much solar photovoltaic capacity today as in 2010, and more than 10 times as much as in 2007. In the first three months of 2013, solar power accounted for nearly half of the new electricity generating capacity in the United States. The price of solar energy is falling rapidly, and each year tens of thousands of additional Americans begin to reap the benefits of clean energy from the sun, generated right on the rooftops of their homes or places of business.
America’s solar energy revolution has been led by 12 states – the “Dazzling Dozen” – that have used public policies to open the door for solar energy and are reaping the rewards as a result.
Weather disasters kill or injure hundreds of Americans each year and cause billions of dollars in damage. The risks posed by some types of weather-related disasters will likely increase in a warming world. Scientists have already detected increases in extreme precipitation events and heat waves in the United States, and climate science tells us that global warming will likely lead to further changes in weather extremes.
Wisconsin Environment Research and Policy Center is part of The Public Interest Network, which operates and supports organizations committed to a shared vision of a better world and a strategic approach to getting things done.