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'You are failing us': Plans, frustration at UN climate talks


Scolded for doing little, leader after leader promised the United Nations on Monday to do more to prevent a warming world from reaching even more dangerous levels.

As they made their pledges at the Climate Action Summit, though, they and others conceded it was not enough. And even before they spoke, teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg shamed them over and over for their inaction: “How dare you?”

Secretary-General Antonio Guterres concluded the summit by listing 77 countries that committed to carbon neutrality by 2050, 70 nations pledging to do more to fight climate change, with 100 business leaders promising to join the green economy and one-third of the global banking sector signing up to green goals.

“Action by action, the tide is turning,” he said. “But we have a long way to go.”

Businesses and charities also got in on the act, at times even going bigger than major nations. Microsoft founder Bill Gates announced Monday that his foundation, along with The World Bank and some European governments, would provide $790 million in financial help to 300 million of the world’s small farmers adapt to climate change. The Gates Foundation pledged $310 million of that.

“The world can still prevent the absolute worst effects of climate change by reducing greenhouse gas emissions and developing new technologies and sources of energy,” Gates said. “But the effects of rising temperatures are already underway.”

As the day went on Monday and the promises kept coming, the United States seemed out in the cold.

Before world leaders made their promises in three-minute speeches, the 16-year-old Thunberg gave an emotional appeal in which she scolded the leaders with her repeated phrase, “How dare you.”

“This is all wrong. I shouldn’t be up here,” said Thunberg, who began a lone protest outside the Swedish parliament more than a year ago that culminated in Friday’s global climate strikes.

“I should be back in school on the other side of the ocean. Yet you have come to us young people for hope. How dare you. You have stolen my dreams and my childhood with your empty words.”

“We are in the beginning of a mass extinction and yet all you can talk about is money,” Thunberg said. “You are failing us.”

Later, she and 15 other youth activists filed a formal complaint with an arm of the U.N. that protects children, saying that governments’ lack of action on warming is violating their basic rights.

Outside experts say they heard a lot of talk Monday but not the promised action needed to keep warming to a few tenths of a degree. They say it won’t produce the dramatic changes the world requires.

“Sometimes I feel that Greta is still out in front of the Swedish parliament out on her own,” said Stanford University’s Rob Jackson, who chairs the Global Carbon Project, which targets carbon emissions around the world.

Bill Hare, who follows national emissions and promises for Climate Action Tracker, called what was said “deeply disappointing” and not adding up to much.

“The ball they are moving forward is a ball of promises,” said economist John Reilly, co-director of MIT’s Joint Center for Global Change. “Where the ‘ball’ of actual accomplishments is, is another question.”

Of all the countries that came up short, World Resources Institute Vice President Helen Mountford said one stood out: the United States for “not coming to the table and engaging.”

“What we’ve seen so far is not the kind of climate leadership we need from the major economies,” Mountford said. She did say, however, that businesses, as well as small- and medium-sized countries, had “exciting initiatives.”

Nations such as Finland and Germany promised to ban coal within a decade. Several also mentioned goals of climate neutrality—when a country is not adding more heat-trapping carbon to the air than is being removed by plants and perhaps technology—by 2050.

U.S. President Donald Trump dropped by the summit, listened to German Chancellor Angela Merkel make detailed pledges—including going coal-free—and left without saying anything.

The United States did not ask to speak at the summit, U.N. officials said. And Guterres had told countries they couldn’t be on the agenda without making bold new proposals.

Even though there was no speech by Trump—who has denied climate change, called it a Chinese hoax and repealed U.S. carbon-reduction policies—he was talked about.

In a jibe at Trump’s plans to withdraw the United States from the 2015 Paris climate agreement, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said countries “must honor our commitments and follow through on the Paris Agreement.”

“The withdrawal of certain parties will not shake the collective goal of the world community,” Wang said to applause. Also Monday, Russia announced that it had ratified the Paris pact, which it had signed already.

Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, the U.N.’s special climate envoy, thanked Trump for stopping by, adding that it might prove useful “when you formulate climate policy,” drawing laughter and applause on the General Assembly floor.

Thunberg told the U.N. that even the strictest emission cuts being talked about only gives the world a 50% chance of limiting future warming to another 0.4 degrees Celsius (0.72 degrees Fahrenheit) from now, which is a global goal. Those odds, she said, are not good enough.

“We will not let you get away with this,” Thunberg said. “Right now is where we draw the line.”

As this all played out, scientists announced that Arctic sea ice reached its annual summer low and this year the ice shrank so much it tied for the second lowest mark in 40 years of monitoring.

Hilda Heine, president of the Marshall Islands, said she represents “the most climate-vulnerable people on Earth.” Her tiny country has increased its emissions-cut proposals in a way that would limit warming to that tight goal of 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) since pre-industrial times.

“We are now calling on others to join us,” Heine said.

Several leaders talked about getting off coal, but Climate Action Tracker’s Hare said it wasn’t enough. Barbados Prime Minister Mia Mottley said if the world can make driverless cars, it can tackle climate change.

“There simply can be no more coal power plants after 2020 if we are serious about our future,” she said.

Speaking for small nations that are already being eaten away by sea level rise and blasted by stronger storms, Mottley said, “We refuse to be relegated to the footnotes of history and be collateral damage.”

Angela Major 

A tractor pulls a trailer through a corn field while chopping silage Monday, September 23, 2019, near Orfordville.

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Flexible twist: Blackhawk Tech enrollment will rise as semester unfolds


Last week, Blackhawk Technical College’s enrollment was down 1.5% from last year.

But Jon Tysse, the college’s director of institutional research and effectiveness, said Monday that this year’s enrollment numbers were about even with last year’s. He expects—no, he knows—that enrollment will rise as the semester goes on.

Counting students at Blackhawk Tech is more complicated than it was two years ago because the college implemented flexible start times in many subject areas.

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Here’s how much of a difference two weeks can make:

  • At the beginning of the school year, the college’s enrollment was down 4%.

On Day 15, the head count was 2,290—down from 2,323 last year, a decrease of 1.4%, according to Blackhawk Tech data included in the board’s packet.

  • The number of credits students were taking was down 9.6% at the beginning of the school year.

On Day 14, the percentage difference was 6%.

Flexible scheduling allows students to start school whenever they want in certain programs.

Want to be a food science technician, welder, auto mechanic or information technology specialist? You can enroll before the semester begins or you can start tomorrow—or next Tuesday.

“It’s a sea change moment for us,” Tysse said. “It’s a sea change for students.”

Students no longer face the enrollment pressure they did in the past, he said.

People who attended college remember what it was like. You wanted to be first in line or online the moment registration opened or you wouldn’t get the classes or instructors you wanted.

Consider this: During the spring 2019 semester, credit hours in the welding program grew 68%.

Tysse expects to see growth in credit hours at BTC’s Advanced Manufacturing Training Center in Milton. The college also plans to add another section to its certified nursing assistant program as soon it finds enough hospitals and nursing homes willing to host clinicals for students.

Clinicals are like supervised internships for CNAs.

Another area of growth is the Basic Corrections Academy, a four-week, 160-hour course that teaches students how to be correctional officers. The next session of the course hasn’t started yet.

Changes to scheduling mean college officials must keep careful track of enrollment numbers throughout the semester.

“It’s really changed how we look at things and how we plan for things,” Tysse said.

Obituaries and death notices for Sept. 24, 2019

Lavern J. Bahl

Arthur W. Edwardson Jr.

Robert Jacobson

Nicholas G. Konz Sr.

Laurence C. “Larry” Otto

Michael James Quick

Dwight W. Quisberg

Donald E. Stuhr

Margaret P. Sturdevant

Traugott Weingartner

Lois Kathryn Wolf

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Janesville now allows movie theaters to apply for liquor licenses


Wildwood Theatres Movies 16—and any theater that might come to town in the future—may now apply for a liquor license in Janesville after the city council voted unanimously Monday to allow it.

The city had not allowed movie theaters to apply for liquor licenses under its separation rule, City Clerk-Treasurer Dave Godek said.

The rule forces businesses to partition places where alcohol is sold from other retail areas. Exemptions are given to bowling alleys, pool halls, dart lanes, archery lanes and now movie theaters.

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Wildwood may now apply for a liquor license and must get approval from both the Alcohol Licensing Advisory Committee and the city council before beer and booze can flow.

During a public hearing for the ordinance change, resident Bill McCoy said there better be “doggone guidelines” for selling alcohol in movie theaters.

McCoy worried about young theater employees giving alcohol to minors.

Sarah Lehr, general manager of Janesville’s lone movie theater, presented the council the rules and regulations she intends to put forward as part of the theater’s license application.

The bar would have an ID scanner that would prohibit sales if a valid ID for someone 21 or older is not scanned. Scanners would be positioned at all points of entry for employees to check alcohol compliance, Lehr said.

Alcoholic beverages would be sold in distinct cups to differentiate them from other beverages, and each customer could buy just one beverage at a time, Lehr said.

Theater staff would be trained on safe alcohol sales and how to identify when alcohol should no longer be served to someone who is intoxicated.

The bar at Movies 16 would replace the small arcade located off the lobby, Lehr said.

The theater would apply for a Class B license, the same license given to taverns and restaurants. Rules for taverns, such as requiring a licensed bartender be present at all times, would be enforced.

City councilor Doug Marklein said he thinks the move is good for the city because it makes Janesville competitive with other cities where movie theaters can serve alcohol.

Marklein said he does not drink but that he has gone to theaters that serve alcohol, and those who were drinking did not create a problem.