As thousands of students in 100 countries walked out of school to protest their government’s inaction on climate change March 15, here in Wisconsin, much of the news seemed to stem from the weather.

Flooding throughout the state closed roads and caused enough damage for the governor to declare a state of emergency. Reports in Sunday’s Wisconsin State Journal indicated that struggling farms in the western part of the state took another blow caused by Mother Nature. Heavy February snows had collapsed barn roofs, killing cattle and other animals.

As Democrats in the United States line up to announce their runs for president, we’ll likely hear more about the threat of climate change, along with proposed solutions.

Rep. Alexandrea Ocasio-Cortez and U.S. Senator Ed Markley released a resolution for their Green New Deal in early February, likened to Roosevelt’s “New Deal,” that responds to environmental and economic challenges facing the United States. Another goal is to meet all of the country’s power demands “through clean, renewable and zero-emission resources.”

Many have criticized the high cost of the implementing the goals, with one organization estimating the potential price tag at $600,000 per household. Others have called the goals and the timeline unrealistic.

One concern has centered around the The Green New Deal’s limits to carbon emissions from cows, and it’s a valid one, more from the standpoint of protecting drinking water. But already, manure digesters in Dane County that reduce runoff while creating compressed natural gas have shown that solutions exist to lower emissions and protect our waterways.

The Green New Deal is just a 14-page document with ambitious reforms, and while far more analysis is needed to work out the implementation and costs, it’s the beginning of a necessary conversation. Already, cities and states across the country are working on limiting carbon emissions and investing in renewable energy resources, but a more widespread approach is needed.

As the year unfolds prior to the next presidential election, we can expect to hear more voices on this, and only through further discussion can change occur. We will leave this planet to those young protesters, and we should be responsible stewards of it.

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