Welcome to the inaugural launch of The GCIR, – ‘Global Climate Impacts Reporter’. This blog will feature one monthly report, from our education team, highlighting a location of climate change impacts, followed by citizen scientist observations of climate change impacts, from all over the globe, as we receive them.
Notice an increase in drought and/or wildfires where you live? An increase or decrease in native plant, insect or animal species? Are you coming across insects, plants, birds or other wildlife you have never seen before in your backyard? Has a climate change impact caused a negative impact to your health?, daily lifestyle or professional livelihood? Have you discovered a safe, inexpensive, effective, mitigation method for dealing with water shortage or invasive species? Email your reports to the NewScience101 education team via: NewScience101@gmail.com and we will post them here.
Our first feature blog installment highlights the many climate change impacts effecting the state of Colorado.
Though it seldom makes much of a lengthy, detailed, splash on the major television news circuits, Colorado is actually a rather large, central, ‘bulls-eye’ for climate change effects in the United States. Considered by many to be the most beautiful of the lower 48 states, (for its statewide length of dense pine forests west of interstate 25, magnificent canyons, scenic continental divide, year round, snow capped, 14,000+ ft high mountains, georgeous snow skiing, abundant & varied plant & wildlife, surreal fields of colorful wildflowers, amazing trout fishing, picture perfect, large double rainbows, stretched out across the horizons in summer, And, awe inspiring views of the night sky from its mountains ), …. Colorado is, unfortunately, also, rapidly earning the new nickname of “Ground Zero” for climate change effects, in the U.S.
Drive west along 1-70, from Denver to Glenwood Springs and where you once marveled at the beauty of a continuous line of lush evergreen trees, you now see large patches of brown and even completely bare trees, some extending for thousands of acres, killed off by bark beetle infestation. While pine beetles have always been a problem in the rocky mountains, Colorado forestry service professionals have discovered, in recent years, the shorter, drier, winters and hotter, extended summer seasons have caused healthy trees to weaken and allowed the beetles to live, breed and spread for longer periods, causing the infestations to develop into unprecedented, record, epidemic proportions. It has also permitted for the spread to 12 other varieties of evergreen trees throughout the state. Drive south, along I-25, from Denver to Trinidad and look west to see, not only have the beetles spread to other species of trees but, they have left the entire span of front range mountain forests that much more suseptible to lightning sparked, wildfires, which, in turn, leaves those forest areas that much more suseptible to future epidemic proportions of beetle infestations.
In 2011, 100′s of thousands of acres of forest & grassland were destroyed by wildfires in Colorado and even so recent as June 2012, 87,284+ acres of the Arapahoe & Roosevelt national forests, along with 259 homes were destroyed in a lightning spark wildfire. This month, yet even more wildfires continue to burn and carve out paths of destruction. One, in the Pike & San Isabel national forests, which has completely destroyed 18,247 acres of trees and land, along with 359 near by homes, another, in GrandJunction, destroyed 13,920 acres And, One in San Juan National forest, near Pagosa Springs, commenced May 13th, has thus so far destroyed 24,900 acres, continues to present containment difficulties and has left residents across six counties wondering when their headaches and breathing problems, (caused by heavy drifting smoke), will finally subside.
Climate Change has also greatly affected wildlife in Colorado. Many bird and wild life species have permanently moved their terratories to higher ground, or, in some cases, are entirely relocating out of state, due to hotter, drier conditions and wildfires disrupting their food supply. Some predatory species, like Coyotes & wolf-coyote hybrids, have been spotted more often, near inhabited residential homes in, the Twin Spanish Peaks mountain area of Las animas county, in recent years, simply because they are having to expand their hunting terratories to locate enough mice & rabbit to sustain themselves on. Likewise, in 2009 & 2010, when unusual, extreme, weather patterns caused an odd case of over abundant rainfall, everyday, for 8-10 weeks in summer, in that same area, there was an increase in invasive weeds and insects that choked out the native plants the local wildlife population nourished itself on.
Climate change induced water source contamination and shortages has also been on the rise in Colorado, affecting millions of residents. In 2008 bacteria in Alamosa’s water, sickened 100′s and made the water completely undrinkable for an extended period of time. While the source of the contamination proved to be caused by Industrial negligence, it was the hotter weather conditions which caused the bacteria to grow and spread in the water source so quickly. Over the past two years, throughout the state, but quite especially, in the reservoir near Dillion, Aquatic nuisance species, mountain pine beetle tree mortality and wildfire/forest fire have all contributed to water source contamination And in Southern Colorado, west of interstate 1-25 between Walsenberg and Trinidad, many residents have complained about having to supplement their ground water wells (a main water source for rural dwellers), by having city water hauled in, – due to there simply not being enough precipitation to sustain their families, year round.
Econimically speaking, While all states in the U.S. are currently experiencing budget shortfalls due to the recession, Colorado has taken an even larger financial punch, because a large portion of its revenues is derived from the skiing industry. With earlier snowmelt, the skiing conditions, which up till recent years, drew in large #s of patrons thru April, have not been very good. Although many resort owners have dipped into their own pockets to provide large discounts, while shelling out money for more man made snow, patronage continues to decline.
Unfortunately, climate change, unlike a financial recession, is not merely a temporary nuissance, that will improve in a few years. Coloradoans may be in for a rather long, bumby, ride in years to come.
If you reside in this state, we ask that you please continue sending us any and all reports of climate change induced effects occurring in your backyard.
Send your impact reports to: NewScience101@gmail.com
Be sure to include your full name, email address, story and/or photo source information.
Note: NewScience101 will never publish your full name, email or other personal identification information without your express consent. Submitted reports may be edited for space, grammer/spelling and content.