Washington, D.C. – Colorado U.S. Senator Michael Bennet today responded to the National Climate Assessment (NCA), the fourth report released by the U.S. Global Change Research Program assessing the science of climate change and its impacts across the United States.
“The National Climate Assessment puts more facts behind what Coloradans have known for years,” Bennet said. “From persistent drought to reduced snowpack to raging wildfires, our state’s farms, mountain towns, and cities all feel the effects of climate change. And those effects take a real toll on Colorado’s economy. I’m glad to see the Trump administration is finally acknowledging the science behind our changing climate—now it’s time they act on it.”
As a member of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry and the Senate Committee on Finance, Bennet is working to combat climate change on several fronts. He advocated for programs in the 2018 Farm Bill to address persistent drought, fix the Forest Service budget to mitigate wildfires, and promote carbon capture technologies. He also supports tax credits for renewable energy and energy efficiency and investment in research and development to continue to reduce the cost of clean energy.
The fourth National Climate Assessment outlines a number of ways in which climate change is affecting the Southwest and Colorado. Some highlights are included below.
Climate Change Findings in the Southwest
- Temperatures increased across almost all of the Southwest region from 1901 to 2016, with the greatest increases in western Colorado and southern California.
- Extreme heat episodes in much of the Southwest disproportionately threaten the health and well-being of individuals and populations who are especially vulnerable. Native Americans are among the most at risk from climate change.
- Climate change is altering ecosystems and their services through major vegetation shifts and increases in the area burned by wildfire.
- In parts of the region, hotter temperatures have already contributed to reductions of seasonal maximum snowpack and its water content over the past 30–65 years, partially attributed to human-caused climate change.
- The increase in heat and reduction of snow under climate change have amplified recent hydrological droughts (severe shortages of water) in California, the Colorado River Basin, and the Rio Grande.
- Periods of low precipitation from natural variations in the climate system are the primary cause of major hydrological droughts in the Southwest region, with increasing temperatures from climate change amplifying recent hydrological droughts, particularly in California and the upper Colorado River Basin.
- Under the higher scenario (RCP8.5), climate models project an 8.6°F (4.8°C) increase in Southwest regional annual average temperature by 2100.