Dane County Executive Joe Parisi announced Wednesday that he is convening a new council to ensure county government is better prepared for weather extremes brought on by global climate change.
Parisi said the effort is the first of its kind for a county in Wisconsin.
"Images of parched farm fields, flooded homes, wind damaged properties and cars stranded in deep snow drifts are becoming too common to ignore the reality that super storms and other weather extremes are the new norm," Parisi said in a news release.
Parisi's new Dane County Climate Change Action Council will include Charles Tubbs, the county's emergency management director and a national instructor on preparedness for the Federal Emergency Management Agency, along with other key county managers whose operations might be affected by weather extremes resulting from climate change.
Parisi said he has tasked his new council with reporting to him within six months on recommendations of any changes or additional resources the county or its public safety partners may need to pursue to be better prepared to cope with changing climate.
David Liebl, a climate change outreach specialist with UW-Extension and a member of the Wisconsin Initiative on Climate Change Impacts-Science Council, will facilitate the initial meetings of the Climate Change Action Council. Liebl has been working with communities and groups across the state to improve their understanding of climate change so they can be proactive in developing adaptation strategies for coping with extreme events.
Liebl was a contributing author for a report compiled by scientists across Wisconsin entitled "Wisconsin’s Changing Climate: Impacts and Adaptation." That report predicts that Wisconsin's annual average temperature is likely to warm by 4-9 degrees within the next few decades and that intense rain events will become more frequent. The report concludes that more heavy winter and spring precipitation, combined with little change in total summertime rainfall and higher temperatures, will increase the likelihood of summer droughts.
Parisi also announced Wednesday that he is assigning the county's Departments of Administration and Public Works to initiate an analysis of how effective county-led efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions have been to date. Parisi also asked the group to develop a roadmap to further reduce these emissions over the next several years.