Climate Change in Glenwood Springs

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Jeff Nuemann, The Denver Post

Gracie Westphal, Reporter

After years of concerns, climate change has become increasingly difficult to ignore. It’s showing up in ways many people were not expecting. But, perhaps the scariest thing to imagine is that climate change is looming over the not-so-distant horizon; the effects of it are even showing up right in the Western Slope of Colorado.

 

What is climate change and what are the effects of it?

 

It’s hard for most of us to see the changes because they’ve been happening slowly and in ways that we don’t expect. What we tend to imagine for a future damaged by global warming is a desecrated desert land, scorched by the sun and stripped of color and life. That isn’t necessarily a bad prediction, but there are many more layers to the effects of climate change than we think.

 

Bodies of water aren’t just evaporating; they’re also rising. Confused? Well, because weather patterns are changing so dramatically, some regions are going through unpredictable cycles of extreme drought and flooding from tropical storms. Not to mention that sea levels are rising due to the melting of snow and ice in the polar regions of the world, and also because sea water expands as it gets warmer. And that’s just the start.

 

As places become dryer and dryer, they are also turning into uninhabitable environments for humans, animals, and plants. One area that is already beginning this phase is Central America.

 

As the days warm and storms become far and few between, many families in Mexico and other Central American countries are struggling to survive. Crops are dying and water sources are drying up, which has brought about a wave of famine and poverty on the people.

 

It has become clear to us that these changes are not just a natural phenomenon. The fact is, the climate is evolving way too rapidly to be a normal occurrence, and we know that humans are creating a surplus of greenhouse gases, mainly carbon dioxide and methane, which have been proven to trap heat inside the atmosphere.

 

But where is this carbon dioxide coming from? Well, most people know that some huge contributions come from our cars and energy sources. Humans have also been producing CO2 through deforestation and even concrete manufacturing.

 

How is climate change affecting Glenwood Springs?

 

All of Colorado has been experiencing bouts of drought for years now. I think we’ve all noticed the late winters, forest fires, and warmer temperatures. While some of these are bound to happen in Colorado from time to time, regardless of climate change, these things are also happening way more often than in previous years.

 

It’s also clear to us, by looking at graphs and data we’ve collected, that the average yearly temperatures in Colorado are steadily climbing higher and higher. According to the national park service, “spring snow melts two to three weeks earlier, resulting in less water available in the summer”, or at least in the Rocky Mountain national park area.

 

The park has also been noticing more mountain pine beetles surviving the winter (which is not a good thing), the seasons are misaligned, more invasive species can survive in the new climate, and other species can’t handle the changes.

 

But aside from the actual climate aspect, climate change has also had an impact on the population of many places in the world, including our very own western slope. As some regions of the world begin their dangerous cycles of drought and weather, millions of people are being forced from their homes, and even their countries, in order to survive.

 

In this case, a multitude of people from Central America and Mexico are making their way to the United States, and yes, Colorado. While this may not exactly be a bad thing, we don’t know how this incoming surge of people will affect our population levels, economy, and overall quality of life for all people here.

 

What can we do to stop this from getting worse?

 

First of all, we have to stop ignoring the science. We’ve known about climate change for one century, yet we’ve done little as a society to combat and/or prevent it from happening. There are also a multitude of people who believe scientists are lying about global warming, but, even if there was a chance these things could be happening, wouldn’t you want to make sure it didn’t?

 

The sad truth is, climate change is already here. But, we have the power to reverse it if we take action REALLY SOON.

 

We can’t do much as individuals, but every action counts. First of all, try to use less energy. Most of us are told to do this from an early age, but the truth is that most people don’t heed this warning. Energy is one of the biggest contributors to climate change, so if we try to use the least amount that we can, we can start to make some difference.

 

You can also try to switch to a better energy source. Some of the worst energy sources for both human safety and the environment are coal, oil, and natural gas. If you are able to choose or switch the energy source that powers your home, some of the best choices are hydropower, nuclear, wind, and solar. 

 

What most people also don’t realize is that all products take energy and resources to make. This includes everything from cars to clothes, from furniture to the packaging your food comes in. By trying our best to reuse as much as possible and buy new stuff as little as possible, we can make small contributions to the climate issue.

 

To make the most impact, though, you can use voting and activism to share your opinion and fight for environmental changes to our government policies. There are some movements/ organizations that you can support, like The Sunrise Movement, which is bringing together people from all backgrounds to change government policies. They are specifically trying to introduce a “Green New Deal”, a congressional resolution that would bring the “American society to 100% clean and renewable energy, guarantee living-wage jobs for anyone who needs one, and a just transition for both workers and frontline communities—all in the next 10 years” (thesunrisemovement.org).

 

If you want to learn more about climate change, or if you’re interested in taking action, consider visiting some of these sites:

(Sources)