CO website highlights climate change risks at neighborhood level / Public Press Service

Coloradons are already seeing the impacts of climate change — rising temperatures, more frequent and severe wildfires, flooding and prolonged drought — and economists are entering the fray to help communities identify and mitigate risks.

Pegah Jalali, environmental policy analyst at the Colorado Fiscal Institute, said their new website lets Coloradans see, for example, how air pollution — from highways, power plants and refineries, and wildfires — is impacting their neighborhoods.

“These all impact the health of our communities, and they also impact our economy,” Jalali said. “Because our economy in Colorado is highly dependent on our environment, because of our outdoor recreation industry and our agriculture.”

Jalali said “Coloradoclimatechange.comwas created in part to help Colorado residents see how climate change is expected to play out by 2050 and what can be done to avoid the most catastrophic scenarios.

An interactive map shows a range of dangers projected by scientists if swift action is taken to stop burning fossil fuels, or if business continues as usual.

Climate change is expected to exacerbate existing barriers and inequalities, and Jalali said some Coloradans are more vulnerable than others. She pointed to the recent Marshall Fire that destroyed more than a thousand Front Range homes and businesses.

“If you don’t have a car, you are less likely to be able to get out of the area,” Jalali said. “If you don’t speak English, you may not be able to get the same information to prepare to evacuate.”

The site also offers a roadmap to avoid worst-case scenarios. Jalali said investment is needed in neighborhoods that will be disproportionately affected by global warming, and communities dependent on fossil fuels need help finding jobs that pay a living wage.

“We need to switch to clean energy as soon as possible and stop burning fossil fuels,” Jalali said. “We need to hold polluters accountable. We need to tax pollution. We need to prepare our communities to build resilience.”

Disclosure: The Colorado Tax Institute contributes to our fund for Budget Policy and Priorities Reporting, Census, Education, Living Wages/Working Families. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.

get more stories like this via email