Earlier this week, Wisconsin’s Board of Commissioners of Public Lands voted to ban its employees from discussing, doing any work related to, or even responding to emails about climate change, Bloomberg reported.
The three-member board manages the Wisconsin Trust Funds for financing public education and for managing the Wisconsin Trust Lands. State Treasurer and board member Matt Adamczyk (R) said that focusing on climate change is “not a part of our sole mission, which is to make money for our beneficiaries.”
“That’s what I want our employees working on,” said Adamczyk. “That’s it. Managing our trust funds.”
The fact that the agency is in charge of managing the Trust Lands, including forests the state earns revenue from in the timber industry, means climate change will inevitably affect the board’s ability to make money.
According to Bloomberg,
“The Midwest warmed about 1.5F on average from 1895 to 2012. Pine, maple, birch, spruce, fir, aspen, and beech forests, which are common in the region, are likely to decline as the century progresses, according to the latest US National Climate Assessment. ‘Climate change may threaten forests in the Midwest,’ according to the US Environmental protection agency. ‘Threats include more frequent droughts, wildfires, and larger populations of harmful insects such as gypsy moths.’”
Wisconsin Secretary of State Douglas La Follette (D), who has been on the board for nearly 30 years, called the ban “nonsense.”
“We’ve reached the point now where we’re going to try to gag employees from talking about issues. In this case, climate change,” said La Follette. “That’s as bad as the governor of Florida recently telling his staff they could not use the words ‘climate change.’”
La Follette is right. What the Wisconsin government has done is complete nonsense. Simply not talking about a problem doesn’t make it go away. Pretending that climate change isn’t real only ensures that we will be less prepared for the changing conditions, and it will be that much harder to adapt.