Letter to the Editor: Water Levels and Climate Change Connection Questions

Thank you for your recent article titled “Why Are Water Levels So High?” (Peninsula Pulse, July 2).

Science is messy, and it takes time to go from hypothesis to theory. It’s a matter of observations that are measurable and consistent by a community of scientists working in related fields of study.

Good science deserves respect and is hard won. It’s our best source of relative certainty. It’s our best source of being able to predict the future, which is based on what is most probable. How do we reduce our risks in the future?  

Consequences matter. For instance, if I have a small risk of having my house burst into flames versus having the same level of risk of having the light burn out in my refrigerator, which is most important to address first?

As a community, we might shine the light of science more strongly on the question of lake levels and climate change, and find liability by fossil-fuel companies while checking our own behavior in reducing greenhouse gases. Our changing climate appears to be the threat multiplier that is making things worse. It may amplify natural cycles of lake-level changes.

Basically, the Pulse’s article does not provide a satisfying answer to the question or to how we use the scientific method and the precautionary principle. If we were in a different place, our observations and science would lead to different sensibilities, policies and possibly different legal interpretations and more research. Hopefully after the next election, we will be in that other place.

When we look at the magnitude of the damage to Door County shorelines, the open-ended question begs for action beyond being passive observers. A climate that is changing due mostly to human action is the threat multiplier. 

Granted, this is a hard question to answer, but isn’t this what civil society should concern itself with? Are high waters not yet another canary in a coal mine?  Does not the level of risk preclude absolute certainty?

John Hermanson

Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin