Colorado Climate Action Plan Cover

Colorado Coalition for a Livable Climate Reaction to the 2015 Colorado Climate Action Plan

Fort Collins, CO – Member organizations of the Colorado Coalition for a Livable Climate (CCLC) were disappointed to learn that the 2015 Colorado Climate Plan, which was released today by the Hickenlooper Administration, makes only cursory reference to the greenhouse gas emissions reduction goals established by the Ritter Administration.  The Plan does not acknowledge that the State is currently falling far short of achieving those goals.

The CCLC is also concerned that the goals adopted by the Ritter Administration – which have seemingly been abandoned by the Hickenlooper Administration – are inadequate to meet the responsibility of our State to help avert catastrophic global climate change.  Given the widespread agreement among climate scientists that a global temperature rise of more than 1.5° to 2.0° C (2.7° to 3.6° F) over the mid-19th Century average would lead to a climate catastrophe, the CCLC proposes that the State of Colorado adopt the following new climate goal statement:

“To help secure a future in which the environment, culture, and economy of Colorado are not further irrevocably damaged by climate change, the State shall develop and adopt annual greenhouse gas emissions goals that are supportive of limiting the global average temperature rise to 1.5° C (2.7° F) or less by the end of this century, and which shall include achievement of carbon neutrality by 2030.  These goals shall be informed by the best available science, as well as by the need for an equitable allocation of our remaining carbon budget among all the people of the planet.  Building on past efforts, the State shall also develop and adopt a comprehensive, multi-sector plan to achieve the new goals, in addition to accounting measures to validate annual progress toward them.”

Due to the urgency of addressing global climate change, we must do far more than is contemplated by the recently released 2015 Colorado Climate Plan. Adoption of the above goal statement, followed by the creation of a plan for developing, achieving, and monitoring progress toward reaching the annual goals called for, is essential if Colorado is to assume a leadership role in responding to the climate crisis.

Member organizations of the CCLC include:

1.       350 Colorado

2.       Clean Energy Action

3.       Colorado Chapter, Global Catholic Climate Movement

4.       Colorado Interfaith Power and Light

5.       Colorado Renewable Energy Society

6.       Community for Sustainable Energy

7.       Denver Catholic Network

8.       Eco-Justice Ministries

9.       Empower Our Future

10.   EnergyShouldBe.Org

11.   Fort Collins Sustainability Group

12.   Fossil Fuel Free Denver

13.   Our Children’s Trust Colorado

14.   Rocky Mountain Peace and Justice Center

15.   San Luis Valley Ecosystem Council

16.   Sustainable Revolution Longmont

17.   Transition Fort Collins

For further information, please contact Kevin Cross of the Fort Collins Sustainability Group at info@fccan.org or 970-419-8944.

2 thoughts on “Colorado Coalition for a Livable Climate Reaction to the 2015 Colorado Climate Action Plan”

  1. How old will you be when we blow our carbon budget?

    According to Australian climate scientist David Spratt we have already blown our carbon budget as of June of 2014, and the human race will exceed 2 C above the pre-industrial baseline in 2058. David is the editor of Climate Code Red.

    According to the members of the Arctic Methane Emergency Group, who presented at the Lima, Peru climate change conference, the human race is facing rapid climate catastrophe due to the rapidly warming Arctic and rapidly-rising Arctic natural methane emissions as soon as 20-30 years from now.

    The Arctic Methane Emergency Group is just one of dozens of similar professional and academic groups worldwide that are all making similar findings over the rapid rise in Arctic methane emissions.

    The staff at the International Arctic Research Center at the University of Alaska Fairbanks is another, and there are Arctic research institutes at Cambridge University, a Norwegian University, Stockholm University, and at several Russian universities that are worried sick as annual Arctic natural methane emissions have more than tripled since 2007.

    According to Michael Mann the human race will pass the 2.0 C / 3.6 F target in 2036 (which means that it is already too late to prevent) and exceed 2.5 C in average planetary warming between 2045 and 2050.

    According to the US National Climate Assessment (2014), which uses an unusual baseline to attempt to underplay its findings, the human race will exceed 2.5 C between 2055 and 2057.

    According to a 2015 look at climate change impacts to Colorado’s water supply done by CU, CSU, and NCAR, (who also use an unusual baseline that must be adjusted to reach the common pre-industrial baseline), Colorado is looking at a median forecast of 4.1 C above the pre-industrial baseline by mid-century (range 2.9 to 5.3 C), along with a Statewide water supply shortage of between 216,000 and 360,000 acre-feet annually.

    According to the most-recent International Energy Agency look at climate change (2015) the human race is facing global average temperature rise of 3.9 to 7.6 C by 2100 on our present lackadaisical pace toward greenhouse gas emissions reductions. The IEA is a staid and conservative 29-nation energy policy coordinating agency that the US is a member of and is definitely not liberal.

    In 2014 researchers at Harvard University made a climate change prediction that almost exactly mirrored the 2013 IEA findings. In 2013 the IEA forecast average planetary warming of 3.6 to 5.3 C by 2100, and in 2014 Harvard forecast 3.3 to 5.6 C over the same time frame. The median forecast is exactly the same at 4.45 C.or 8.0 F.

    FYI: Any global average temperature rise of 4 to 5 C or 7.2 to 9.0 F will cause billions of people globally to be driven from their homes due to the failure of local food and water supplies.

    Here in Colorado we are facing the imminent depletion of both the Denver Basin Aquifer (within the next 12-15 years) as well as the High Plains Aquifer at our latitude between 2040 and 2050, which will leave the entire Front Range north of the Palmer Divide all the way to Kansas, Nebraska, and Wyoming with declining annual runoff and increasing surface water evaporation as our only water source.

    A global average temperature rise of between 4 to 5 C would also cause snow levels to rise by another 1500 to 2000 vertical feet, which would further reduce runoff as lower elevation winter precipitation will fall as rain rather than as snow. Imagine how much less annual spring and summer runoff Colorado will enjoy if the average winter snow level is 9000 feet elevation and when the ground doesn’t generally freeze below 6000 to 7000 feet?

    The IPCC AR5 forecast is suspicious for several reasons, as the IPCC political wing must approve any scientific findings released but also the wording of their documents must be sanitized to protect the business interests of the members of its political wing. Furthermore, the IPCC does not include any scientific finding or observation less than three years old in its reports.

    As such, AR5 does not include the record Arctic ice-melt summers of 2011 or 2012, nor the immense surge in permafrost thaw and natural methane emissions there either. Nor does AR5 include the immense upsurge in catastrophic rain and flood events worldwide, nor does it include droughts in the Rio Grande basin, the Colorado basin, nor the last four years of life-threatening drought on the West Coast either.

    One thing that AR5 did however was to substantially revise the heat trapping ability of methane upward, from just 20-25 times that of CO2 over a century following emission, to as high as 115 times that of CO2 after just 5 years after emission. Since then other scientists have found that the heat-trapping ability of methane peaks a couple of weeks after emission at close to 1000 times that of CO2.

    The big issue with methane both man-made and natural is that the rate of emission is continuous and rising, with an occasional record spike, so reporting its heat-trapping ability in any time frame but the short term is rather misleading as until the human race gets serious about reducing greenhouse gas emissions, the amount of methane in our atmosphere will keep rising.

    Since the pre-industrial era atmospheric CO2 is only up by 44% but global average methane levels are up by 260% with several recent record spikes observed in the Arctic of above 2800 parts per-billion, with the new all-time record observed methane spike last spring of 2827 ppb being 3.94 times the pre-industrial level. The maximum level of these record Arctic atmospheric methane spikes has risen by almost 300 ppb over the last three years too.

    Last winter saw the lowest recorded Arctic sea-ice extent with several massive atmospheric methane spikes that caused rapid additional warming, and even in August methane spikes were observed in the mid-2600 ppb range, about 250 ppb above 2012 and 2013 for the same time frame.

    This past summer we saw an extremely rare event in the Arctic, as the post-tropical remnants of several typhoons hit Alaska and even entered the Arctic Ocean with strong winds, warm rain, and caused huge waves on the ocean there that rapidly broke-up the remaining sea ice.

    If it hadn’t been for the first of these post-tropical storms dumping 10 inches of rain across central Alaska in July, Alaska could have easily seen double the amount of forest burned there this past summer too. As it was, 2015 was the 2nd-worst wildfire season in Alaska to 2004, with 5.2 million acres burned, with no substantial enlargement of area burned following that storm hitting either.

    Over the last two summers record amounts of land have also burned across norther Canada and Siberia, with fires melting permafrost underneath. Siberia has even seen a number of natural methane eruptions which have blown large holes in the tundra there as the permafrost has thawed.

    I could go on and on for days but I started my activist career as an anti-fracking activist and the oil & gas industry also has immense methane emission issues that dozens of major recent studies have found. CU in 2014 found triple the methane emissions from Weld County fracking wells as was assumed by the industry, and made other similar findings flying over Utah fracking wells too. Since then several US government agencies have found similar methane release issues from the oil & gas fracking industry.

    Since 2012 other respected universities including Cornell, Harvard, and Stanford have found very high natural gas leakage rates between gas wells and the end user of 6-16% of all shipped gas, and natural gas is over 90% methane. The observed rate of leakage is 2-6 times as high as just continuing to burn coal would cause in heat-trapping impact, though burning coal also involves much greater negative health impact from smoke and coal ash too.

    Other researchers have also found that well cementing fails immediately in 5-7% of all wells fracked, and that cementing fails in 33-50% of oil and gas wells at a half-century in age too, which releases contaminates into our aquifers and releases even more methane too. A recent study in Pennsylvania found that roughly 50% of abandoned oil & gas wells leak methane at 50 years of age.

    Of course the livestock industry is a huge methane release culprit as is the palm oil industry and several other industries that reduce biomass into a liquid form that produces large amounts of fermenting bio-waste stored outdoors in waste ponds or stacked-up in huge tailings piles.

    What worries me the most is that tens of millions of people to our south and southwest due to ongoing climate change and ever worsening heat and drought will very likely exhaust their own water supply and suffer food supply collapse before we do, which could easily result in Colorado having to play host to as many as 5-10 million desperate refugees before our own water and food supply collapses, and our children are forced to join an immense refugee horde and suffer a fate far worse than instant death.

    California by itself is forecast to be as much as 15 million acre-feet short on fresh water on an annual basis by mid-century, enough to supply the entire State population and all industrial use there, Las Vegas, Phoenix, Tucson, and Yuma will likely exhaust their water supplies within 1-2 decades, and the El Paso/Juarez urban area is seeing a growth rate of over 5% which will rapidly surpass Denver in size probably this year or next, and rapidly outstrip its declining water supply too. A dozen other major cities in Mexico are on the ragged edge of exhausting their aquifers with Mexico City only having about 40 years remaining until disaster strikes its 25 million residents too.

    It has become painfully apparent that Governor Hickenlooper is a either a Blue Dog Democrat or a closet Republican, in either case bought by the oil & gas industry here, with no intention of taking any stand to reduce oil & gas royalty revenue to government even if his stance involves massive impact on Colorado residents including the loss of some to all of our population over the balance of this century, even if Colorado is destroyed in the process.

    Hickenlooper’s stance on reducing the fossil fuel use and emission that is destroying future livability both in Colorado and globally reminds me of Nero fiddling while Rome burned.

    Apparently the only way to move forward toward responsible energy and environmental policy here in Colorado is to elect enough liberal Democrats that will force government action to save us, hopefully before it is too late, and it already may be too late too. Did we all know that here in metro-Denver for September and October through the 10-day forecast today is running at an average temperature of almost 6 C above the historic norm?

    I am the site owner of the climate change and sustainability news sharing page Coloradans for Responsible Energy and Environmental Policy on Facebook, and I also serve as a site moderator on the Facebook pages “Earth Wrecked” and “Climate Alert”.

    I would also recommend viewing the information available on Arctic News Blogspot.com as well as following along with the activities of the IARC at the University of Alaska Fairbanks as cutting-edge Arctic climate research science is making new findings there just about every day.

    I am also a second-year Master’s student at UC-Denver focused on Urban and Regional Planning and Regional Sustainability, specializing in climate change impacts to regional Southwestern US food and water supply, to go with my recent Land Use Planning degree from Metro State and a 30-year career in the wholesale fresh food distribution industry on a national scale, As such my climate change interest as well as 30 years of national travel experience is much wider than just focused on Colorado, today even a global focus.

    Through my own academic research of hundreds of climate change and sustainability sources over the last five years my own stance on climate change is calling-for average planetary warming of 4 to 5 C by 2060 to 2075 with an ever-increasing chance for catastrophic natural methane release from the Arctic as the temperature there rises by 2-3 times what the global average does.

    Just the release of one Gt of natural Arctic methane in a single summer will add to my estimates by about 1.0 C and cause rapid feedbacks that cause greater additional natural Arctic methane release with greater later consequence up to and including rapid human extinction. As such, there is no room for compromise, as billions of lives hang in the balance of a failure to act.

    I have also been a volunteer writer for the national Democrat Party who today supports Bernie Sanders as perhaps the last chance that the average American has to enjoy a stable livable future long-enough for our children and grandchildren to live-out their natural lives.

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