Colorado’s poor air quality is a disastrous example of what climate change will bring

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Smoke-filled skies, searing lungs and tips for keeping kids indoors have plagued Colorado’s past two summers, and according to the latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, those nasty effects of global warming will only increase in frequency and intensity. over the next decade.

Humanity must dig deep to ensure a healthy and comfortable future for Earth’s 8 billion people.

In Colorado, climate change is being felt in mega-fires that have burned record amounts of land in the West for the past two years. The size and intensity of the fires were due to the underlying climatic conditions that made our forests exceptionally vulnerable. Drought has created powder kegs of dried plants where green undergrowth once thrived, and mountain pine beetles have ravaged the trees of our forest without hard frost to kill pests.

Fires spit out dangerous fine particles that can damage the lungs and worsen asthma and chronic heart and lung conditions. At least one study has shown that particles become more dangerous – becoming free radicals – the longer they stay in the air.

In addition to the pollution from fires, the Front Range also struggles with unhealthy amounts of ground-level ozone that is created when exhaust and industrial emissions combine under the scorching sun. We have made progress in reducing our ozone emissions, but exceeded the EPA threshold 37 times this summer with ozone action alerts.

In the Pacific Northwest and western Canada, climate change was felt during the deadly heat wave in June. Portland peaked at 116 degrees F. Scientists warned in the IPCC report that heat waves could be 5 degrees warmer over the next few decades if we don’t dramatically reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

In the southwest, severe drought and evaporation are depleting water reservoirs, and agricultural land in the region could lie fallow next year without significant rainfall and unprecedented water sharing since upstream. .

the The IPCC report released this week was devastating. The world has already warmed by 1 degree C (1.8 degree F) and could surpass the 1.5 degree mark in the early 2030s. Systematically, IPCC scientists have linked global extreme weather events to climate change man-made with almost complete certainty and often “very likely” confidence.

The possibility of keeping human-induced warming below 2 degrees is also rapidly receding, according to the 234 authors of the United Nations IPCC report who reviewed 14,000 studies to document human effects on climate.

These scientists believe that if the global community is to avoid the worst effects of a 2-degree rise in average global temperatures, we must start drastically limiting our greenhouse gas emissions and engaging in carbon capture technology to eliminate some of the CO2 from our atmosphere. therefore more heat can escape.

U.S. leaders must prepare to lead a campaign of shared sacrifice globally to reduce emissions at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Scotland in November. Congress should act ahead of the event to send a signal that a country that has been significantly polarized on the issue of climate change is now politically committed to the cause. The IPCC report notes that countries are already failing to meet their targets under the Paris Agreement. New determination is essential.

Colorado’s leaders must continue to chart an aggressive political course for reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

And every Coloradan must make reducing their personal carbon footprint a priority in their own life and continue to put pressure on those who have the power to control our future.

Our clean air, clean water, temperate climate, mountain snowpack and general Colorado way of life are under threat, and humans have the ability to work together in a concerted effort to preserve our climate.

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