Viewpoint: Global warming impact in the Northwoods
I recently attended an excellent presentation about the impact of global warming on wildlife in northern Wisconsin (Nicolet College, April 11), given by Dr. Mike Meyer. Using reliable records of temperatures in Wisconsin, Meyer was able to demonstrate the undeniable fact that temperatures in our state have warmed, particularly in the winter, and that we are already seeing the impact of the warmer temperatures on plants and animals that are important to so many of us living in or visiting northern Wisconsin.
A few of the changes discussed include:
• Decreasing days of snow cover in winter, with more days of melting and refreezing which will imperil animals that live under the snow, burrow into the snow, need snow to camouflage themselves.
• The impact on the ability of wildlife to find food (example: as temperatures increase black spruce swamps will diminish, imperiling spruce grouse populations).
• Deer populations growing due to milder winters resulting in more browsing thus less regeneration of many tree species.
• Insects and diseases that have not yet occurred in northern Wisconsin.
The change that I think demonstrates most clearly how the impact on animals and our environment will affect human lives in the Northwoods is twofold. As Dr. Meyer discussed how the warming temperatures will cause the lakes in northern Wisconsin to become murky/opaque due to excessive plant growth, I thought of all the tourists and residents who enjoy swimming, kayaking, etc., in our beautifully clear lakes. And as he explained how loons depend on clear water to find the fish they need to survive, I thought of the loons’ deep long dives that so many of us enjoy watching, and I had a sinking feeling. With all the changes that the well-documented and undeniable warming is causing, we already stand to lose so much.
There are many other important reasons for concern about global warming; thinking about all can be overwhelming. Let’s begin close to home with the effects on animal and plant species, and the subsequent impact on our tourist economy, and I would say on the beloved Northwoods way of life. We will continue to suffer the effects of warming temperatures, and as the climate disruption worsens the effects will worsen. We need to wake up to the urgency that this reality places on us.
Janice Kanyusik, Rhinelander