Dane County budget to address climate change

2013-09-30T07:30:00Z Dane County budget to address climate changeMIKE IVEY | The Capital Times | mivey@madison.com madison.com

Dane County is taking climate change seriously and plans to make a nearly $1 million investment next year to handle big rainstorms, heavy blizzards and more runoff into farm fields.

The $508 million county budget for 2014 to be introduced by County Executive Joe Parisi on Tuesday will include money for everything from 16 new Sheriff's Office vehicles that can power through deep snow to larger culverts to handle copious amounts of storm water.

“We’re looking at warmer and wetter weather and preparing for the potential challenges,” said Parisi in an interview.

Dane County may have already experienced what a warmer Wisconsin could look like. Last year saw a summer drought, a winter of few but major snow events, a quick spring meltdown and then summer thunderstorms that brought flooding.

UW-Madison climate scientists are now predicting that by 2050, statewide annual average temperatures are likely to warm by 6 to 7 degrees Fahrenheit, with three or more weeks per summer where temperatures exceed 90 degrees.

The state is also likely to see a trend toward more precipitation overall continue, with the most probable increases in winter, spring and fall. Soil erosion rates could double by 2050 from 1990 levels.

Those predictions are included in a new county report “Climate change and Emergency Preparedness” which lays out a host of scenarios, not all of them bad.

On the positive side is a longer growing season, which could boost agricultural production and make some crops better suited to southern Wisconsin.

But the report says a warming climate might mean more gray squirrels, white-tailed deer, European starlings and Canada geese, species with potential negative impacts on the environment, not to mention the typical backyard.

While those changes might occur pretty far down the road, county officials are already taking steps to address some of the storm events that have overwhelmed emergency responders of late.

In addition to replacing traditional County Sheriff cruisers with 4-wheel drive SUVs, the county is looking at converting Parks Department vehicles to “blizzard busters” by adding tractor-treads. They also plan to connect parks rangers with public safety officials via an improved radio system.

“Last year we had motorists stranded on the road we couldn’t reach,” said Parisi.

As part of the budget, Parisi is looking to convert other county vehicles to cleaner-burning compressed natural gas (CNG), a fuel produced as a byproduct of the Rodefeld county landfill across from the Yahara Golf Course. He says the cost of CNG vehicles is offset by the lower costs of the fuel.

“By converting to CNG we are helping on both ends by reducing our own climate-changing emissions,” says Parisi.

Also, the county is expecting to bring its second manure digester, located in the town of Springfield, on line. The digesters produce electricity while controlling the release of methane from animal waste, which can generate 20 times the global warming gases as coal burning.

The County Executive’s 2014 budget includes $981,000 in capital dollars for climate change adaptation initiatives:

  • $100,000 for the acquisition of special equipment to help remove and trim trees in the county parks system damaged by storms. The new equipment would be driven on tracks, allowing it to access all types of terrain.
  • $250,000 dedicated solely for the replacement of outdated culverts under roads. These culverts help move runoff along after heavy rainfall. Many aren’t equipped to handle the volume that comes with big storms, resulting in backups into valuable agricultural lands and in some cases, flooded highways.
  • $40,000 for radios that connect park rangers to DaneCom.
  • $60,000 blizzard buster track technology for park ranger vehicles.
  • $10,000 emergency sandbag fund to help responders and communities react quickly to high water events.

The budget also includes $3.8 million for energy and fuel efficiencies that will save the county operating dollars and reduce its carbon footprint:

  • $1.6 million in energy efficiency upgrades for the county’s human services building on Northport Drive. This facility currently has 58 different heating and cooling units that are several decades old. Replacing these systems and installing automated and LED lighting are examples of the planned upgrades. The county spent $109,100 on utilities at the facility in 2012.
  • $2.3 million to purchase 9 CNG snowplows that run on the cleaner burning, cheaper fuel from the landfill.

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(21) Comments

  1. Dode
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    Dode - October 09, 2013 10:10 am
    For the climate change believers, here is some more ammo to pop your bubble.


  2. JoeBlow
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    JoeBlow - October 02, 2013 9:21 pm
    Wow! Probably the lamest post - ever - on any board or site! Good job, truthunknown!
  3. TheRestOfTheStory
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    TheRestOfTheStory - October 01, 2013 2:47 pm
    this is for you flat earthers, gather some useful information from the world, not just one person: http://globalnews.ca/news/865168/the-great-climate-change-debate/
  4. IAD
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    IAD - October 01, 2013 7:55 am
    Not actually thinking that climate change is Dane County's number 1 problem right now. Let's look a bit closer at these manure digesters. They take a substance that would otherwise be put back on the land as fertilizer and process it into methane. Of course what they don't tell you is the fields still need lots of fertilizer. So the farmer has to apply more chemical fertilzers than ever before. The chemical fertilizers are made in chemical plants a few thousand miles away using fossil fuels, then transported to the farm (using fossil fuels of course) and applied to the fields (again you guessed it using fossil fuels). Obviously the only benefit to anyone or anything is in PR for Dane County in the poligion of GW.
  5. 196ski
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    196ski - September 30, 2013 9:52 pm
    If we accept that the earth is warming and that it is man made then in the words of Hillary, "what difference does it make"? It did then but it doesn't now just to keep the record straight.

    We are unwilling to address global warming as a planet because the solutions are too painful and we can't agree how to distribute that pain equitably. China and India argue that because most of the Carbon emissions to date have come from the developed nations, developed nations should severely cut their emissions while undeveloped nations are allowed to "catch up". Its why we didn't sign Kyoto and why Canada withdrew and also why there was no agreement in January to replace it.

    We have an abundance of natural gas, a cleaner fuel but still a carbon emitter. Swapping our coal plants for NG will not stop GHG emissions it will only slow the growth, and in an infinitesimally small amount. The rest of the world does not have that resource if they have any at all. Most import coal and oil. Is it ironic that we won't burn coal but will export it to Europe?

    Does anyone actually think that the governments of China, India and Sub-Saharan Africa are going to deny their people access to a dependable electrical grid because of global warming? Not ever going to happen. We talk about Chevy Volts and they want a light bulb.

    Nuclear power
    Population control
    Standards of living.

    Those are the options and that discussion will never be held.

    Curious, what would the reaction be if Dane County proposed building a nuclear power plant to supply the county and surrounding are with zero emission power?
  6. rrivoire
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    rrivoire - September 30, 2013 9:31 pm
    In addition, your insistence on assertions of "settled science" by the "eco-conspiracy" is clearly not supported by the literature. There is a consensus, not a conclusion. The consensus is open to debate, as evidenced by the recent Science issue that I cited below. Your "uber-lefty" phd relative's erroneous opinions not withstanding. Feel free to cite paradigm-shifting evidence. I'm sure the scientific community would be all ears. Tenure, after all, is worth fighting for.
  7. rrivoire
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    rrivoire - September 30, 2013 9:03 pm
    Just for the record, Bruno was burned at the stake in 1600. Galileo faced the inquisition in 1633. Galileo was not Bruno's "protégé."
  8. Cornelius Gotchberg
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    Cornelius Gotchberg - September 30, 2013 8:49 pm

    Thanks; I'll check that out. Anything that doesn't have anything to do with the UNIPCC is worth a read.

    If you honestly believe that I haven't read the other side, you couldn't be more wrong.

    I started out as a...um...true believer. Listening to my BIL & watching "Too Hot Not To Handle," by Eco-Hypocrite (forgive the redundancy) Laurie David, who helped out Fat Albert with his Oscar/Nobel/Grammy Award winner "An Inconvenient Truth."

    I was sold!!

    Then I started looking into it past the headlines & the "Settled Science," a term that would make any one with a scientific mind (including my Uber-Lefty PHD brother) cringe.

    I got buyer's remorse.

    One would sooner, and more life-sustainably, suffer the trials and travails of Galileo than of his protoge' Giordano Bruno, who was burned at the stake in a pitch-soaked shirt.

    Undoubtedly contributing to Global Warming.

    The Gotch
  9. JoeBlow
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    JoeBlow - September 30, 2013 8:44 pm
    Dr. Richard Lindzen, atmospheric physicist / Professor of Meteorology at MIT is not impressed with the new IPCC report.

    "I think that the latest IPCC report has truly sunk to level of hilarious incoherence. They are proclaiming increased confidence in their models as the discrepancies between their models and observations increase. It is quite amazing to see the contortions the IPCC has to go through in order to keep the international climate agenda going."
  10. 1blueheron
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    1blueheron - September 30, 2013 8:39 pm
    Jobs! Make the drainage culverts a priority. Parts of Madison can hardly handle 3 fast inches of rain. What will it look like when it the 13" that fell this past early June in Boscobel decides to drop in Madison? One big lake instead of two. Think of a name for it.
  11. rrivoire
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    rrivoire - September 30, 2013 7:58 pm
    Gotch, as a start, I refer you to the special issue of Science magazine, published by the American Association for the Advancement of Science, that appeared this August. Specifically, the issue entitled "Natural Systems in Changing Climates."


    You should note it has nothing to do with the IPCC or it's summaries of current research by published and peer-reviewed scientists. It explicitly invites - as is customary in scientific endeavor these days, ie "the scientific method" - criticism of data, methods and interpretation. It makes obvious that to those who study climate change, the ultimate impact of anthropogenic climate change is unknown. But a clear, peer-reviewed consensus has obviously emerged: human activities are changing the earth's climate.

    What exactly is it that prevents you from at least checking this huge consensus out? You're not like Galileo and his support for Copernicanism... You won't face the Inquisition and be burned at the stake for your beliefs. It's not a bold iconoclastic stand either. It's just mystifying.
  12. Cornelius Gotchberg
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    Cornelius Gotchberg - September 30, 2013 7:21 pm

    The preface, intro, preamble, or as I'm fond of referring in this particular example, the "grab yer ankles" moment!

    SfP stands for "Summary for Policymakers." It's where the UNIPCC (which does no research of its own) takes the conclusions its sifted through, eliminating all those that don't confirm its "aim," and summarizes.

    The summary is to inform policymakers (government officials, bureaucrats & other bloodsucking rent-seekers) how best to take the information contained therein and apply it in a manner that will create and sustain the most lucrative shakedown opportunities possible.

    Now, is my summary of the UNIPCC biased? Well yes, as a matter of fact it is.

    But it is in no way, shape, or form anywhere near as biased as the SfP, or ANY of the previous Assessment Reports? It's not even in the same freaking Universe!

    I invite anyone to do a little independent research on the workings of the UNIPCC and its Chair Rajendra Pachuari.

    You won't get that at HuffPo, relaclimate.com, skepticalscience.com, the Union of Concerned Scientists, or any similar news source.

    I don't know if you know the kind of people that are running that organization, and moving it in a predetermined direction, but I will unequivocally assure you it's not the Boy Scouts!

    The Gotch
  13. rrivoire
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    rrivoire - September 30, 2013 6:26 pm
    I honestly have no idea what the SfP is. Please enlighten me.
  14. Cornelius Gotchberg
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    Cornelius Gotchberg - September 30, 2013 6:10 pm

    "Warming of the climate system is unequivocal, and since the 1950s, many of the observed changes are unprecedented over decades to millennia. The atmosphere and ocean have warmed, the amounts of snow and ice have diminished, sea level has risen, and the concentrations of greenhouse gases have increased."

    That from the SfP?

    Very few people know the inner machinations of the UNIPCC, but they are hell & gone from lacking an agenda, which is the absolute antithesis of scientific inquiry.

    You know that because you're anything BUT a layman!

    And I mean that as a sincere compliment, one you've certainly earned.

    But if you're going to interpret it from the perspective of the SfP, I'll pass.

    Other wise, I'm all in.

    Beer Summit??

    The Gotch

  15. Cornelius Gotchberg
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    Cornelius Gotchberg - September 30, 2013 6:00 pm

    My parent's wide-eyed kids read the Earth Day 1970 predictions and got real, real scared!!


    I guess that link includes some other predictions that...um..came in a tad under expectation.

    Shall we discuss Fat Albert's "An Inconvenient Truth," or would that 'truth' be just a bit too 'inconvenient.'

    The Arctic was supposed to be ice-free this summer according to Fat Albert's 'five-year plan.'

    How'd that work out?

    The Gotch
  16. rrivoire
    Report Abuse
    rrivoire - September 30, 2013 5:15 pm
    Since it appears none of you deniers will take the time to actually read the UNIPCC report, and will instead rely on various media reports and rightwing blogs for your information about what it contains, let me at least quote it's opening for you:

    "Warming of the climate system is unequivocal, and since the 1950s, many of the observed changes are unprecedented over decades to millennia. The atmosphere and ocean have warmed, the amounts of snow and ice have diminished, sea level has risen, and the concentrations of greenhouse gases have increased."

    You're welcome. Feel free to provide peer-reviewed data or paper citations, rather than journalism or opinion pieces, to back up your assertions. Also, this layman would be happy to help you interpret the IPCC report if you need assistance. Let me know.

  17. concerned_citizen
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    concerned_citizen - September 30, 2013 5:15 pm
    amazing that Dane County isn't fooled by all the hundreds of millions of dollars being spent by the fossil fuel and motorized vehicle and road building industries trying to "create doubt".
    "smoking doesn't cause cancer"

  18. concerned_citizen
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    concerned_citizen - September 30, 2013 5:13 pm
    temperatures are rising slowly - because the ice is melting and moderating the heat and CO2 we are putting into our air.
    once the ice (polar, glaciers, etc) is gone, look out!
    then the temperatures will really start to rise.

    do you have kids?
  19. aspyder
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    aspyder - September 30, 2013 12:23 pm
    “The real problem for the climate panel (United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) is to explain why for the past 15 years to 20 years, while we have kept pumping out more CO2, thermometers have refused to budge.

    This doesn't mean that there is not some global warming, but it likely means that temperature rises will be lower, not higher, than previous estimates. That fact makes alarmist scenarios ever more implausible.”

  20. happydays
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    happydays - September 30, 2013 10:06 am
    Thank you - thank you
  21. Cornelius Gotchberg
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    Cornelius Gotchberg - September 30, 2013 9:37 am
    Does Capital Newspapers and/or Dane County have any archived articles about how the changes Dane County made back in the 1970's that mitigated Global Cooling and prevented the next Ice Age?

    The Gotch
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