Scientist says it’s ‘prudent’ for Colorado to prepare for climate change

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Photo: Hayman fire
Damage from the 2002 Hayman Fire is still evident in this May 2014 image of the Lost Creek Wilderness.

Climate change was a big enough concern for state lawmakers that, in 2013, they asked that scientists issue a report about how Colorado could be affected and what it should to do prepare.

That report is out and hotter temperatures are coming -- roughly 2.5 to 5 degrees warmer by the middle of this century, says University of Colorado Boulder researcher Eric Gordon, one of the report's authors.

That might not sound like much, but Gordon says the anticipated warming is “pretty significant.”

Droughts, wildfires, and insect-driven diseases will all be more prevalent, he says.

"If nothing else, that simply means that we’re going to see the average summer is going to be as hot as pretty much the hottest summers that we’ve seen," Gordon said.

The state's tourism, agriculture and mining industries could be affected as well, Gordon said.

"Colorado is a very diverse economy and as a state there are many parts of the economy that will probably not be nearly as affected. But there are some communities that are very dependent on things like tourism," he noted.

The 176-page report was compiled by researchers at the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences, the University of Colorado Boulder, the North Central Climate Science Center, the Natural Resource Ecology Laboratory at Colorado State University, and the National Center for Atmospheric Research. Thirty experts from state offices, consulting groups and academia reviewed the report.