Everyone knows that the polar ice caps
are melting or that Florida may soon cease to exist.
These are both great examples of global warming and yet
they just do not hit home for most people. Believe it or
not even here in pristine Wisconsin the effects of
global warming have reared their ugly head. The climate
changes in Wisconsin are small but are changes all the
same. While the temperature in Wisconsin has remained
unchanged, precipitation levels in some areas of the
state have increased 5-10% (www.epa.gov/globalwarming).
Though the climate and precipitation changes that have
occurred are minimal what is predicted to happen is not.
One of Wisconsin’s most beautiful
features is her forest. These woodland areas provide
hiking, camping, habitat for animals, and lumber. We
have often heard that we need to manage our beloved
forests because they are one of Wisconsin’s greatest
resources. What if we were not able to protect the
forests? Not because we did not stop lumber companies
from clear cutting, or because of urban sprawl, but
because the effects of global warming dried out our
soils and destroyed our forests growing conditions.
Global warming has the potential to either change the
make up or our current forest communities, cause them to
decline by 55-75%, or both (www.epa.gov/globalwarming).
The beautiful lush forests that we have all grown to
love could be reduced to nothing more than grasslands
and savanna (www.epa.gov/globalwarming).
As horrible as these predictions are the forest would
not be the only ecosystem affected.
Wisconsin is home to a vast variety of
fish and other aquatic wildlife. These include, but are
not limited to, “brown trout, walleye, musky, largemouth
bass, crayfish, snails, mussels, and freshwater
These species rely on the vast collection of lakes,
rivers, and streams that make up Wisconsin’s aquatic
ecosystem. If the temperature did increase as much as it
is feared it will much of these streams and lakes would
decrease in flow or even dry up. This would severely
decrease the amount of suitable habitat for many of
these species. As any avid fisherman knows, trout for
example, are very particular about water temperature and
suspended solids. This means that the stream would not
even have to dry up for the habitat to be unsuitable for
the trout, it would simply have to increase a few
degrees in temperature. I use this example because trout
fishing brings in a lot of money to Wisconsin. If the
habitat is destroyed for this fish we not only lose a
treasured aquatic species but also the money that sport
fisherman would bring into our state. Now that we know
the potential effects of global warming the question is
what is being done to derail this runaway train before
it is to late.