Science and Ideology

Media Confuses Climate Change with Wisconsin Work Ethics

Although climate change is a serious problem that needs to be addressed, it is not the function of every public agency. Many have a sole purpose defined and paid for by taxpayers.  Bloomberg Business and most of the media reports on the issue were jumping on this story and paraphrasing each other without any original thought.

Last Tuesday, the Wisconsin’s Board of Commissioners of Public Lands voted 2-to-1 to prohibit staff “from engaging in global warming or climate change work” while on the clock at the Board of Commissioners. According to the board, working on climate change, or even just talking about it while at work, is a waste of public funds.

“[Climate change is] not a part of our sole mission, which is to make money for our beneficiaries,” said state Treasurer Matt Adamczyk (R) of Wisconsin, the leader of the effort, according to a Bloomberg Business report on the hearing. “That’s what I want our employees working on. That’s it. Managing our trust funds.” Adamczyk, Secretary of State Doug La Follette (D) and Attorney General Brad Schimel (R) make up the board.

Climate change is a scientific fact, but still, it is not the business of the Commissioners of Public Lands. They are not scientists, nor do they have any expertise in the area. They are in the business of managing trust funds. The Board of Commissioners of Public Lands school trust funds were designed a century ago to help finance public education through the sale and management of land granted by the federal government. Today it helps fund school libraries and makes loans to Wisconsin communities.

Bloomberg Business attempted to draw a connection, “The agency continues to receive some income from the timber industries. That makes climate change, as it affects the forests of Wisconsin, relevant at least in some part to the long-term health of the board.” according to Bloomberg writer Eric Roston. This is a bit of a stretch in that the agency members or no more experts in forestry than in climate change.

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