It appears that the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) of Wisconsin is making a huge shift in how it deals with climate change beginning with the removal of all references to the environmental issue as manmade.

James Rowen, an environmental writer for the Urban Milwaukee digital newspaper, first pointed out the change in his Dec. 26 op-ed article.

The DNR made the changes on Dec. 21, noticeably dropping entire sentences that refer to global warming as a result of human activities and increasing carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere.

Climate Change Debate

In a section on the site titled "The Great Lakes and a changing world", the agency says the Earth is going through some changes as it has done so in past centuries. The exact cause of these changes is still being debated and researched by academic institutions.

The DNR went on to say that whatever the causes and effects of the Earth's changes may be, it is the agency's responsibility to manage Wisconsin's natural resources through whatever event, such as severe heat, drought, flood, or tornado.

Rowen said the DNR scrubbed any mention of human activities as contributors to the warming of the planet. It removed references to the ongoing issue of global warming as the cause of drastic changes in the Earth's climate.

The revisions to the website entry have also done away with the statement that "scientists agree" that "if climate change patterns continue," the Great Lakes region will experience shorter winters and longer summers, reduced ice cover, and changes in snow and rain patterns.

Observers believe this sudden change in the DNR's stance on climate change reflects the sentiments of Republican Gov. Scott Walker, who has been de-emphasizing the issue of global warming since taking office in 2011.

For its part, the Department of Natural Resources said it has updated the webpage entry to echo the agency's position on climate change. The DNR must regularly respond to various environmental and manmade stressors, ranging from wind events, flooding, and drought, and even changes in demographics.

Jim Dick, a spokesman for the Wisconsin DNR, said the department has to be ready to respond to such challenges. Adaptation has been the agency's preferred position on the issue.

Dick went on to reiterate that the causes and effects of changes in the Earth's climate are still being researched and debated in academic circles outside of the environmental agency.

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