Milwaukeeans are still buzzing about President Trump’s decision last week to withdraw from the Paris Climate Accord. The United Nations forged the agreement a few years ago; it’s dedicated to curbing global warming. WUWM asked people at Bradford Beach on Lake Michigan in Milwaukee what they think the potential impacts could be on the environment.
Scott Beringer is relaxing in a lawn chair, eating a sandwich. He says he’s not happy with President Trump’s decision to pull the U.S. out of the Paris accord.
“Our climate is really important for us to live and our kids to live in and we all deserve to work in a clean environment, whether it’s our weather, neighborhoods, schools,” Beringer says.
Another person enjoying the scenery is David Fann, a retired military officer.
“I live in the Bay View area but I come out here every day so I can read my Bible and I just love being out here by the lake, every day, rain or shine I’m always out here,” Fann says.
Fann says he too, is upset about the move. And while he isn’t a scientist, he says he has his fears about the future environment of this region, if the world continues heating.
“More erosion, more fish that will be dying and floating up like they did a couple years ago, we had all these dead fish and all the green algae, they had to go out and take care of that I think last year or the year before,” Fann says.
“As water levels change, it affects navigation, it affects our tourism," says Cheryl Nenn with Milwaukee Riverkeeper; she watches the environment for a living. Nenn says the Lake Michigan water line appears normal for this time of year, but she fears the impacts, if the levels plummet over the long haul.
“In Wisconsin, we have an 8 to $12 billion water based tourism economy. Climate change will affect the level of waters, the quality of waters, it will impact tourism and businesses in communities that are dependent on that,” Nenn says.
Nenn says even though the federal government isn’t going to follow the dictates of the Paris accord – to take steps to hold down increases in the world temperature to two-degrees, there are actions citizens can take. One, she says, is to use more renewable energy.
“We do have one wind turbine in Milwaukee and I think we can do better than that. I know the city is doing great things promoting renewable energy but our city and our state can do a lot more to push for that. Transitioning to cleaner cars and providing a better fuel economy is a big part of the solution,” Nenn says.
Nenn says in addition, her organization must be vigilant in mitigating damaging changes. For instance, she says Milwaukee Riverkeeper could help build better buffers to protect shorelines from erosion, and promote effective ways of managing runoff from storms, so it doesn’t send pollutants into waterways.