MON AM News: Report shows temperatures, precipitation on the rise in Wisconsin; Milwaukee arts community impacted by pandemic

— A new report on climate change in Wisconsin finds statewide temperatures have increased by 3 degrees since 1950, while precipitation has risen by 17 percent. 

The report, from the Wisconsin Initiative on Climate Change Impacts, was created after Gov. Tony Evers signed an executive order in 2019 ordering the report’s creation and establishing the Governor’s Task Force on Climate Change. 

The executive order directed the state Department of Natural Resources to work with the WICCI and the University of Wisconsin Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies to update a 2011 report on the state’s climate outlook. In the decade since that initial report, the state’s climate has continued to shift, with extreme weather events coming more often and temperatures continuing to rise. 

“New analyses reaffirm previous projections indicating that many of these trends will continue, with wide ranging consequences throughout Wisconsin’s natural and built environments,” report authors wrote. 

Scientists warn global increases of just several degrees could have significant impacts on sea levels, weather patterns, crop yields and much more. 

The report shows impacts of climate change are being felt differently across the state’s various regions, as locals work to minimize the most harmful effects. 

Farming communities in the Driftless Area in southwestern Wisconsin have experienced years of increased flooding, while coastal communities along the Great Lakes have seen “rapidly fluctuating” water levels and more erosion. At the same time, roads, trails and various wildlife in northern Wisconsin are being affected by the warmer, wetter conditions. 

On a statewide basis, the report shows the last 20 years have been the warmest on record and the last decade has seen the most precipitation. The warming effect is particularly pronounced in the winter. And report authors warn the frequency of “very extreme precipitation events” will increase in the future. 

While the report includes projections for multiple scenarios with variations in greenhouse gas emissions, temperatures are expected to continue rising regardless of the path forward. Report authors note “each additional degree of warming” will intensify climate impacts. 

The WICCI points to “the need for large and rapid reductions” in greenhouse gas emissions to offset the expected environmental changes to come, calling for action at all levels of government.

“Without it, Wisconsin will see even greater impacts to roads, infrastructure, people, businesses, and natural resources,” they wrote. “Wisconsin is uniquely positioned to lead in this transition. For example, our farms, forests, and natural lands can help solve climate challenges through practices that store carbon in soils and reduce emissions.” 

See the full report here: 

— A new Wisconsin Policy Forum report illustrates how the pandemic negatively impacted MIlwaukee’s arts community, which supports thousands of jobs in the region. 

The Milwaukee Artists and Creatives Survey tapped 339 local artists with questions about how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected their ability to make a living through their work. It found that while opportunities for earning income from art have rebounded somewhat from the height of the pandemic, fewer artists are regularly doing so. 

About 58 percent of respondents said they “performed, exhibited or otherwise earned income” from creative work at least monthly before the pandemic. After dropping to just 19 percent early in the pandemic, that number had risen to 43 percent when the survey was conducted between July and September last year. 

Meanwhile, 69 percent said their household incomes were reduced in 2020 because of the pandemic, including 15 percent whose incomes fell by 50 percent or more. And about 32 percent said they applied for unemployment benefits in 2020. 

Even before the pandemic, many respondents said their artistic work isn’t their main source of income. Eighty-four percent of them said they earned income from creative work in 2019, before the pandemic hit, but just 24 percent said half of their household income came from that work. And 61 percent said they’re employed outside of their creative work. 

In response to a question about how businesses in Milwaukee can better support the arts, 48 percent included investing in creative community development in their top two choices. Another 44 percent pointed to advocating for policies to help the region attract and retain creative talent, and 42 percent said they could employ creative workers as artists-in-residence. 

The survey was distributed by arts advocacy organization Imagine MKE and 39 partner groups through email and social media. 

See the full report: 

— Wisconsin counties with the lowest vaccination rates tend to have higher COVID-19 death rates, Department of Health Services data show. 

In contrast, counties with the highest vaccination rates also generally have lower rates of death, though a number of counties don’t precisely fit these trends. 

For example, the three counties with the lowest vaccination rates — Clark, Taylor and Rusk — have each experienced more than 300 COVID-19 deaths per 100,000 population since March 15, 2020. That’s more than triple the number seen among the counties with the lowest death rates. 

Clark County has a fully vaccinated rate of 35.9 percent and a death rate of 333.6 per 100,000 people. Taylor County, with a vaccination rate of 34.2 percent, has a death rate of 324.4. And Rusk County, with 40.7 percent fully vaccinated, has a death rate of 331.5. 

Similarly, several counties with some of the highest death rates have vaccination rates below the state’s overall rate of 59.7 percent. Forest County, with a death rate of 522 per 100,000, has a vaccination rate of 49.2 percent. And Waupaca County, with a death rate of 464.8, has a vaccination rate of 52.6 percent. 

But the county with the highest death rate — Iron County, with 791.3 per 100,000 — actually has a vaccination rate of 62.2 percent. That’s slightly higher than both Wisconsin’s overall rate and that of Buffalo County, which has the lowest death rate in the state at 84.4 per 100,000 and a vaccination rate of 59.7 percent. The median age in Iron County is nearly 10 years higher than that of Buffalo County, at 54.9 years versus 46.6 years. 

Dane County, which leads the state for vaccinations with 77.5 percent fully vaccinated, has a death rate of just 86 per 100,000. But Menominee County, with 75.4 percent fully vaccinated, has a death rate of 285.3. And Door County, with 73.6 percent fully vaccinated, has a death rate of 206. 

See the full list of county death rates and vaccination rates: 

— The Wisconsin Farmers Union has elected Rick Adamski of Seymour as its new president, succeeding Westby dairy farmer Darin Von Ruden. 

Adamski, who has served on the group’s board since 2016, owns Full Circle Farms in Shawano County with his wife Valerie. The 290-acre farm has been in his family for over 120 years. 

“It’s a huge responsibility and yet one I’m eager to take on, leading so many like-minded souls who are all working to improve life in rural Wisconsin through our shared values,” he said in a statement. “For our members, I would like to have this be a seamless transition, with no noticeable changes in terms of the operation of the organization.” 

He says one of his top priorities will be to address “monopoly power” in agriculture, building on efforts of the National Farmers Union to combat concentration in the industry. 

“We will continue to align ourselves with that dedicated effort to confront monopoly power, and I will fight for farmers to be able to have a seat at the table in the making of decisions,” Adamski said.

See the release:  

— Tommy Thompson thanked university staff and students for their help in an emotional final speech to the Board of Regents as UW System president, reflecting on the challenges and successes of his tenure. 

The former Republican guv will pass the role of System president to interim president Mike Falbo on March 18 until Foley and Lardner LLP CEO Jay Rothman takes the helm on June 1. 

“When I was governor, I didn’t think you were all that great,” Thompson jokingly told regents Friday. “But now that I’ve worked with you, I greatly appreciate this opportunity to work alongside you.” 

The Board of Regents passed a resolution to remove the “interim” from Thompson’s title as president, and a resolution of appreciation for his service to the UW System.

See more from his speech at 

— Applications are being accepted through Feb. 21 for the Innovation to Market course, run by UW-Madison’s Discovery to Product program. 

The eight-week course runs from March 2 to April 20, including live online classroom sessions and weekly check-ins with mentors. It’s meant to provide a starting point for entrepreneurs connected to the university, helping them to test out a business concept and nail down a product-market fit. 

It’s open to all UW-Madison faculty, staff and students, as well as employees of affiliate organizations. The spring 2022 session of the course will be virtual, though team mentoring can be done in person “as individually coordinated,” the course site shows. 

See more at Madison Startups: 

See details on the program here: 


# Diverse cities, whiter suburbs, dying farms: 5 ways northeast Wisconsin has changed

# Latest Milwaukee hotel occupancy bump a promising sign in uncertain industry

# Metropolitan Milwaukee Fair Housing Council among 20 organizations to reach $53 million settlement with Fannie Mae



– Adamski elected president of Wisconsin Farmers Union


– Embracing the office: Why these execs show up


– Tommy Thompson says goodbye to Board of Regents in farewell speech


– Q&A: Filmmaker and musician James Runde is just happy to be here


– Waukesha County deer farm tests positive for CWD

– Sturgeon spearers find success as season kicks off


– Evers signs labor contracts for trades workers

– Employees at Oak Creek Starbucks want to unionize


– 25 Milwaukee-area nonprofits awarded $1 million grants through state’s Equitable Recovery Grant Program


– Wisconsin property owners could receive additional school tax credit under Republican proposal

– Tiny homes, big dreams: How some activists are reimagining shelter for the homeless

– HSA Commercial buys Somers site for warehouse project


– Kohl’s CEO Gass reassures employees in letter that ‘the future is bright’


– Smart thermometers help area schools track illness trends


– Milwaukee to Madison Amtrak link would be valuable


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