In this Aug. 10, 2009, file photo, former-Sen. Tim Wirth moderates the National Clean Energy Summit 2.0, in Las Vegas.

Eric Jamison/AP Photo

There was an emerging phenomenon 30 years ago that people were just beginning to grasp: something called climate change. In a recent New York Times feature exploring that pivotal time, one of the starring characters was Tim Wirth, then a Democratic senator from Colorado.

Wirth initially became involved with climate change through his friendship with scientist Carl Sagan, as well as monitoring early data suplied by friends and neighbors who worked at NOAA. He talked to Colorado Matters about chairing the 1988 Hanson Hearings, which Wirth said was led to climate change becoming a mainstream topic, and the progress and challenges the movement has seen since then.