Weatherdem's Weblog

Bridging climate science, citizens, and policy

Colorado Could Be 9.3°F Warmer By 2100

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An unbelievably ironic situation could evolve over the Midwestern U.S. during the rest of this century. The states whose Senators are most adamant about derailing any meaningful action on climate change are most likely to experience the worst effects of that climate change.

How will Colorado’s Senators vote when (if?) a climate change/energy bill comes to the Senate floor. To be clear, there is no such bill currently in the Senate today. Unfortunately, all we can conjecture about are generalities at this point. That being said, this general question should be posed to our Senators (even better would be to get a reasonable response): Will you vote for a climate bill that avoids most of the 9.3°F of warming that Colorado can expect to see by 2100?

It would be best, of course, to see a climate bill that would actually do so. The House’s climate and energy bill, H.R. 2454 doesn’t do enough in my opinion, for example. It would lock in some portion of that predicted warming. At this stage, it is up to the Senate to produce a bolder climate bill.
The link above is to a Nature Conservancy study that was recently released. In it, information on 3 emissions scenarios were assessed to provide average temperature effects by the year 2100. The scenarios, used in the 2007 IPCC 4th Assessment Report (4AR), span the range of scenarios considered by the IPCC. Specifically, they looked at the B1, A1B and A2 scenarios.

The B1 emission scenario produces a 6.3°F average temperature rise. The A1B emission scenario produces a 8.0°F rise. And the A2 emission scenario produces a 9.3°F rise. You might wonder, then, why I decided to use the 9.3°F warming in my title. Am I a left-wing sky-is-falling crank? Gosh, I hope not. No, I’m a realist. And the reality since the 4AR has grown more and more sobering.

The IPCC considered data and model output only from the early 2000s. This was realistic, as it took years to sift through the reports and recommendations of scientific institutions. That left the IPCC in a unique position shortly after the release of the report two years ago. Since the early 2000s, our actual global greenhouse gas emissions have outstripped the most pessimistic forecasts from earlier in the decade. We are on a path that exceeds the IPCC’s worst-case scenario. So really, I should have put 10-11°F in the title, as more recent research indicates is likely for the interior of the U.S. by 2100.

More than anything, I think it is imperative that our Senators understand this and other developments. Many Coloradans like to think of Mark Udall as a champion of the environment. I think Sen. Udall understands the basics of the science behind climate change to a reasonable extent. Is he aware of this decade’s significant and rapidly changing conditions? And how familiar is Sen. Bennet with this subject?

Because if our emissions aren’t reined in quick, and I mean darned quick, this is what the U.S. could be facing by 2050. Yes, Kansas and Oklahoma could fare worse than Colorado. But I’m telling you, I don’t think many Coloradans will think too highly of 7.5°F higher (or more!) temperatures in the summer. Crop and livestock failures tend to make people grumpy.

(h/t Huffington Post)

Cross-posted at SquareState.

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