From the Colorado Fiscal Institute:
Over the last year, it’s been clear that climate change is not something that will be happening in the future. It’s here today. Between wildfires, mudslides, highway closures, extreme heat, drought, and worsening air quality, we’re seeing the often dramatic effects of climate change nearly every day.
New research from Colorado Fiscal Institute environmental policy analyst Pegah Jalali shows that the recent challenges we’ve been facing could pale in comparison to what’s ahead. In Colorado 2050: Why We Need Climate Resiliency to Protect Our Communities and Way of Life, see new ways for policymakers and the public to identify which communities in Colorado will be facing the greatest risks from climate change by the mid-21st century.
How Will Climate Change Affect Colorado?
Be sure to read the full report and accompanying visual brief, where you can learn more about these top takeaways:
Geographic Areas of Risk
Many mountain communities face barriers to overcome in becoming resilient to wildfires, drought, and extreme heat due to their geography and systemic inequities. While most of the attention on climate is focused on the mountains, the Metro Area, large sections of the eastern plains, and parts of Southern Colorado, are at a high risk of being severely affected by several of the risk areas in the report.
The People Most Affected
People who this research shows will be most affected include: Farmers and agricultural workers (and others who work outdoors), people with chronic health conditions, older adults, young children, people who live in the Urban-Wildlife Interface, communities whose economies rely on skiing and other wintertime outdoor recreation activities, and people who work and communities that rely on the agriculture industry.
Barriers to Statewide Resiliency
Many of the communities this report focuses on are more likely to have workers who earn low incomes, a disproportionate number of whom are people of color. This is fueled by systemic racism that creates added barriers to resiliency for these communities.
The Cost of Keeping the Status Quo
The costs of inaction are great: Billions of dollars in damage have already occurred due to the wildfires of the last decade, including the devastating 2020 fires, and those costs will only grow as drought and extreme heat combine to create a longer fire season.
The Value of Acting on Climate Change
By acting now to accelerate our transition away from fossil fuels, investing more in clean energy and mitigation projects, investing in communities that face the greatest barriers to resilience, and ensuring a just transition for fossil-fuel dependent communities, we can avoid the very worst of what is coming.
Reducing Emissions, Reducing Risk
While every part of Colorado is projected to experience major consequences from climate change, reducing emissions to moderate levels will mean less dire increases in the four risk areas outlined in the report: extreme heat, ozone pollution, wildfires, and drought.