Lt. Gov. Barnes: Wisconsin, it’s time to talk climate change

    Photo from Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes' Facebook page from June 2019 visit to Bad River, Lake Superior, the Apostle Islands, and Frog Bay Tribal National Park with the Red Cliff Band of Lake Superior Chippewa.
    Photo from Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes' Facebook page from June 2019 visit to Bad River, Lake Superior, the Apostle Islands, and Frog Bay Tribal National Park with the Red Cliff Band of Lake Superior Chippewa.

    Next week the Governor’s Task Force on Climate Change will hold two listening sessions — virtually — to hear how Wisconsinites are being affected by climate change, as well as soliciting ideas for solutions that state officials might be able to act upon.

    Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes and other task force members will be participating, and the listening sessions will also include presentations on local leadership, as well as opportunities for participants to break into groups, provide commentary and recommendations, according to Barnes’ office. “The listening sessions are completely open to the public, and all Wisconsinites are encouraged to attend — particularly those from low-income communities and communities of color,” it stated in a press release.

    “Through my work and travels as Lieutenant Governor, I have witnessed firsthand the impacts the climate crisis is having on our communities, our health, and our economy,” writes Barnes to introduce the task force. “I have met with farmers whose livelihoods were destroyed by extreme weather events. I have heard from local officials who are gravely concerned about how climate change will affect local tourism. I have learned from health professionals that the climate crisis is the largest public health threat we face.

    “It’s a sad reality, but we cannot afford to let the gravity of this crisis paralyze us. … Our bi-partisan task force brings together a diverse coalition of representatives from agriculture, the business community, Native Nations, utility companies, labor groups, youth, and other industries and communities from across the state. 

    “We are charting a path to meet our goal of 100% carbon-free energy by 2050, while improving the state’s economy and environment, diversifying the resources used to meet the state’s energy needs, and generating family-supporting jobs,” Barnes concludes.

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    Details for the first two planned sessions are below. They are open to the public, but the task force extends a specific invitation to “those from low-income communities and communities of color.” Advance registration is encouraged.

    According to Barnes’ climate change website, these listening sessions in June will be followed up with a July meeting including representatives from public health, economic development and workforce arenas. Members will vote on recommendations in September and deliver recommendations to Gov. Tony Evers by Oct. 31.

    In addition to the first two virtual listening sessions, the task force is accepting written comments and recommendations on its website. Barnes’ Facebook page lists three additional listening sessions in July. 

    Tuesday, June 23, 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. (Register:

    “The first listening session will highlight local sustainability champions and include presentations from the City of River Falls, the City of Milwaukee, and representatives from the UW System. While presentations will be focused on local leadership, commentary on any issues related to climate change is welcome during group discussion.”

    Saturday, June 27, 12 p.m. to 2 p.m. (Register: .

    Details about presenters will be announced soon. 

    Zoom Link: 

    OR Call: 1 (312) 626-6799

    Meeting ID: 365 565 6200

    Password: 219745

    Melanie Conklin
    Melanie Conklin is proud to be a native of the state of Wisconsin, which gave humankind the typewriter, progressivism and deep-fried cheese curds. Her several decades in journalism include political beats and columns at Isthmus newspaper, the Wisconsin State Journal and other publications. When not an ink-stained wretch, she served time inside state, local and federal government in communications. She is excited to be back at the craft of journalism as Deputy Editor of the Wisconsin Examiner. It’s what she’s loved ever since getting her master’s degree in journalism from the UW-Madison. Her family includes one husband, two kids, four dogs and five (or more) chinchillas.