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Disaster Map Shows How Vulnerable Colorado Is to Wildfires

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2018 was the worst year on record for fires in Colorado, costing taxpayers $130 million in damages. (Joe Randall)
2018 was the worst year on record for fires in Colorado, costing taxpayers $130 million in damages. (Joe Randall)
 By Eric Galatas, Public News Service - CO - Producer, Contact
November 29, 2019

SALIDA, Colo. – The National Wildlife Federation's updated interactive map marking wildfires, hurricanes and other extreme weather events linked to climate change hits especially close to home for Aaron Kindle, senior manager for the group's Western Sporting Campaigns.

Kindle and his family recently were evacuated as the Decker Fire near Salida began to spread. Kindle says he hopes the updated map will help Americans see how climate change has become the new normal.

"And that's the thing that really should wake us up, get our leaders doing something about it and take this more seriously,” says Kindle. “It's not a slow, creeping force any more. It's becoming an everyday, in-your-face type of thing that we need to get after doing something about."

Kindle's home was spared, but he says anxiety remains for residents across the West as they brace for longer wildfire seasons.

In addition to pulling the U.S. out of the international climate accord signed in Paris, the Trump administration has doubled down on promises to remove barriers to fossil-fuel production, the primary source of CO2 emissions driving climate change, in an effort to achieve energy dominance.

Recent reports by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warn that the window to prevent the most catastrophic impacts is closing.

Kindle points to proposals before Congress designed to mitigate the impacts of a warming planet, including expanding tax credits for solar and offshore wind power, electric vehicles, energy efficiency, battery storage and carbon-removal technologies.

"There's some things we can be doing right now that Congress just needs to act on, and take a leadership role,” says Kindle. “Essentially we can't afford to sit around any longer, we need to get moving toward these solutions right away."

Kindle notes the federation's "Unnatural Disasters" map shows that no state or region is immune to the threats of climate-fueled natural disasters.

2018 was the worst year on record for fires in Colorado, costing taxpayers $130 million in damages. The same year's hurricane season brought more than $50 billion in damages.

Disclosure: National Wildlife Federation contributes to our fund for reporting on Climate Change/Air Quality, Endangered Species & Wildlife, Energy Policy, Environment, Public Lands/Wilderness, Salmon Recovery, Water. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.
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