Today, 13 government science agencies issued the most definitive scientific assessment to date of the impacts of global warming on the United States and reinforced the urgency of acting now to reduce global warming pollution. The story the report tells for Colorado is one of more drought, flooding and reduced snowpack in winter and river flows in summer, if global warming pollution levels are not dramatically and rapidly cut. According to Environment Colorado, the report also tells another story – one of the opportunity to avert disaster by converting to a clean energy economy.
The report states that, “Sizable early cuts in emissions would significantly reduce the pace and the overall amount of climate change. Earlier cuts in emissions would have a greater effect in reducing climate change than comparable reductions made later.”
“The good news in this report is that the future isn’t written yet,” said Keith Hay, energy advocate for Environment Colorado. “By repowering America with clean energy, we can not only stop the worst effects of global warming, but we can recharge our economy, creating millions of jobs in the process.”
Clean energy has been a bright spot in Colorado’s economy in recent years. According to a survey of green businesses by the Pew Charitable Trusts, job growth in the emerging clean energy economy has been more than twice as fast as in the economy as a whole -18.2 percent growth in green businesses compared with 8.2 percent in all businesses in Colorado combined. Economists at the University of Massachusetts calculated that a $100 billion investment in building a clean energy economy could create as many as 2 million new, well-paying jobs here in the United States in just two years.
“The road ahead should be paved green, with more clean energy jobs. The economics of clean energy and the science on global warming make it quite clear that now is the time to unleash the power of clean energy to protect our environment and transform our economy,” said Hay.
The report found that global warming has already raised average temperatures in the Southwest by 1.5 degrees Fahrenheit. If global warming pollution continues under the report’s high emissions scenario, scientists expect Colorado to experience the following impacts:
- Becoming drier in this century. There is emerging evidence that these changes are already underway. Deserts in the United States also are projected to expand to the north, east, and upward in elevation in response to projected warming and associated changes in climate.
- Transitioning to more rain and less snow. Runoff in snowmelt-dominated areas is occurring up to 20 days earlier in the West. Future projections for most snowmelt-dominated basins in the West consistently indicate earlier spring runoff, in some cases up to 60 days earlier.
- Decreasing late-summer stream flows which stress human and environmental systems through less water availability and higher water temperatures. If reductions in flow projected to accompany global climate change occur, water managers will be challenged to satisfy all existing demands, let alone the increasing demands of a rapidly growing population.
Burning fossil fuels – coal, oil, and natural gas – is responsible for the vast majority of U.S. global warming emissions. Next week, the U.S. House of Representatives is expected to vote on a bill to put a first-ever federal limit on global warming pollution and set a framework for moving to a clean energy economy.
”Our choices today will determine the future we and our children face. Colorado’s Congressional delegation should stand on the side of a cleaner, smarter energy future and support strengthening and passing the American Clean Energy and Security Act,” said Keith Hay from Environment Colorado.