Guest commentary: Climate change is the biggest threat to our well-being |

Guest commentary: Climate change is the biggest threat to our well-being

Tim Sullivan
For Steamboat Pilot & Today

The Steamboat Institute’s recent opinion piece, “Rethinking energy, climate, freedom and prosperity” omits any discussion of the most salient facts about climate change: the impacts we are facing and their consequences for our health and quality of life.

There are many reasons to care about climate change, including concerns for our natural environment, but front and center should be the negative impacts on people here in the Yampa Valley and around the world.

The reality of climate change is that it poses the most substantial risk we face to human well-being and our economy. On the other hand, an orderly and reliable transition to clean energy can improve human health and create new economic opportunities.

As we are already seeing in the Western United States, climate impacts are growing, and it is manifest in drought, increasing wildfires, reduced snowpack and more damaging heat waves.

Around the world, these impacts are even more profound and undoubtedly have a much greater effect on the most vulnerable populations here and elsewhere. And, unlike the transition to clean energy, which will inevitably become cheaper and more efficient, the impacts of climate change, if we don’t act, will only grow worse.

This is why Routt County and hundreds of communities across the United States have adopted a Climate Action Plan. Only if we all act, including countries like China and India, can we mitigate the worst impacts of climate change.

Rather, than rely on anecdotes and outright inaccurate statements about last year’s cold snap in Texas, the organizers of the upcoming Steamboat Institute event should read and absorb the meaning of scientific reports, such as the 4th National Climate Assessment, particularly the second volume focusing on the human welfare, societal, and environmental impacts of climate change, or the increasingly dire forecasts about water availability in the Colorado River Basin.

For Steamboat residents looking to learn more about the impacts of climate change from a scientific viewpoint, consider joining the ongoing discussions on climate change hosted by the Bud Werner Memorial Library

In particular, join the Sustainability Speaker Series talk on Feb. 22 featuring Brad Udall discussing the science around the challenges we face with water in the Colorado River Basin. This talk is co-sponsored by the library, the Yampa Valley Sustainability Council and Colorado Mountain College.

Tim Sullivan is the resilient land and water program director for the Yampa Valley Sustainability Council.

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