Study: CO Feels Impacts of Climate Change on Summer Activities
DENVER – Outdoor recreation is a big reason Colorado has long been a summer vacation destination, but a new report from the National Wildlife Federation says climate change is disrupting many summer traditions – from hiking and camping, to fly-fishing and river-rafting – with warmer temperatures, prolonged drought, reduced snowpack, less water in rivers and more frequent and severe wildfires.
David Ellenberger, a regional campaign manager for the federation, said outdoor recreation is a critical industry in Colorado that brings in $28 billion in consumer spending every year.
"There are roughly 230,000 jobs that are associated directly with outdoor recreation," he said, "and if you add all those up, it's about four times as many direct jobs as the oil and gas industry and the mining industry in the state, combined."
The report recommends policies to slow climate change, including the Clean Power Plan, which would limit emissions from existing coal-fired power plants for the first time. The Trump administration has worked to repeal the plan and other climate protections, claiming that regulations hurt industry and cost jobs.
The report also recommends capturing lost methane at oil and gas production sites, and improving fuel efficiency and limiting pollution from tailpipes.
Doug Inkley, a retired senior scientist with the National Wildlife Federation, said it's time to ramp up wildlife-friendly clean-energy sources, such as rooftop solar and offshore wind.
"We have the means to actually use alternative energy sources," he said. "Now's the time; the sooner we do it, the better. If we wait too long it's going to be much, much harder to do and the impacts of climate change are going to be much greater on all of us."
Climate change has affected summer fun across the nation, according to the report. It says beaches are at greater risk from rising sea levels and erosion from more frequent and powerful storms. Even baseball games, with more frequent rain-outs in spring, have become dangerously hot by August.
The "Safeguarding Summer" report is online at nwf.org/summer.