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A bipartisan deal reached to avert U.S. government default. Also on our Tuesday rundown: a new report calculates the high hospital costs for employers. Plus, new legislation could help protect Florida's at-risk wildlife.

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Congress Considers Bundles of Climate Change Bills: WI Can Take Leadership Role

February 7, 2007


Today's frigid temperatures may make it tough to think about global warming in Wisconsin. However, as the number of global warming bills hits double digits in Congress, state experts say Wisconsin has a lot to lose if no action is taken, and a lot to gain by leading the fight.

Steve Vavruss of the University of Wisconsin Center for Climatic Research says global warming will hurt tourism and agriculture in Wisconsin. He cites problems like less ice on lakes, more floods and hotter summers.

"We've been pretty lucky dodging the bullet on extreme heat waves, but there's every indication that in the future we'll be seeing more of these. Even just a few degrees of extra heat will make things uncomfortable and even life-threatening for some."

Vavruss calls the "Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change" report on global warming released last week a "wake-up call" for Americans to conserve energy and use alternatives to coal and oil. In the report, 1,200 scientists agree that global warming is a reality, and they are "90 percent certain" it is caused and/or exacerbated by human factors. In Wisconsin, that includes emissions from the state's coal-burning power plants, and from car traffic.

Chris Kucharik with the University of Wisconsin Center for Sustainability and the Global Environment points to Governor Doyle's proposed task force on climate change as a good first step.

"People may get the impression that it sounds like it's too late to do anything, but the point is that every little thing we can do right now will help reduce the intensity of these changes."

Access the Intergovernmental Panel's report online, at www.ipcc.ch.

Rob Ferrett/Jamie Folsom, Public News Service - WI