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Posted at 11:06 AM, Jan 09, 2017
and last updated 2017-01-09 13:05:17-05
MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- A group of University of Wisconsin-Madison professors criticized the state Department of Natural Resources on Monday for scrubbing its website of language that stated human activity is causing climate change, accusing the agency of ignoring facts and violating the public trust.
The Republican-controlled DNR's revisions came last month. Instead of saying human activities that increase greenhouse gases are the main cause of climate change, the website now says that Earth's climate is going through a change and the reasons are up for debate.
Seven UW-Madison climate, zoology and ecology professors sent an essay to media outlets Monday saying the new language incorrectly implies climate change is mysterious when it's clearly caused by greenhouse gases produced by burning fossil fuels.
"The Wisconsin DNR has a responsibility to accurately inform the public about the challenges presented by climate change," the scientists said. "Ignoring facts and this responsibility, hobbles the state agency entrusted to manage natural resources and protect the public. It also portrays the Wisconsin state government as anti-science."
DNR spokesman James Dick had no immediate comment on the essay. He told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel last month that the language revisions reflect the position the DNR has held for years.
Most scientists agree burning fossil fuels has increased greenhouse gases and caused global warming. A 2014 United Nations report found that human influence on climate is clear and global warming is unequivocal and unprecedented.
Gov. Scott Walker, who controls the DNR, and his fellow Republicans have been critical of President Barack Obama's climate change initiatives.
The scientists' column threatens to further inflame tensions between UW-Madison and Republican legislators. Over the last several weeks, Sen. Steve Nass, a Whitewater Republican and frequent UW critic, has urged the GOP to slash UW-Madison and the UW System's budget as punishment for the school offering a course called "The Problem of Whiteness" and a program in which male students explore the meaning of masculinity. Nass equated the program to a declaration of war on men.
UW-Madison officials have defended "The Problem of Whitness" course on free speech grounds. They have declined to directly defend the masculinity course other than to say the program is voluntary, lasts six weeks and a number of other universities around the country offer it.
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