It is beginning to feel like spring — minus the ice storms that have brought many areas in the world to their knees.
Texas and Saudi Arabia are not places we would expect this weather. However, like the wildfires, it was predicted by scientists ringing alarms about the climate crisis. I cannot echo enough that NASA has predicted a high probability of a multi-decade megadrought for much of the Southwest, with Colorado in the bullseye by the end of the century. We trust these scientists to send Perseverance to Mars. We too must persevere and accept only policy solutions that meet or surpass the climate targets derived by science.
The United States rejoining the Paris Climate Accords and the World Health Organization gives me hope. It was vital that we rejoin the dialogue with the rest of humanity on how to mitigate harm to people, plants and animals, and our global economic infrastructure. Government agencies at all levels have forecasted the catastrophic costs of climate inaction. The sums dwarf the price tags of the COVID-19 stimulus packages — numbers that, on the surface, seem impossible to fundraise — meaning a predictable degradation in public infrastructure and quality of life, if we continue to get behind on the bills.
Both President Joe Biden and Colorado Gov. Jared Polis recently spoke about committing to continued investment towards climate crisis policy. So far, Biden appears to be taking steps to meet his rhetoric. I am especially encouraged by recent executive orders, which may live up to the goal of injecting environmental justice into all policy decisions, and review previous rules in order to root out systemic discrimination. I do not believe it will happen without hard work, and for longevity sake, we need legislation immediately, too. Polis has drawn criticism from the legislators, environmental organizations and frontline community members, among others, for his administration’s glacial pace in fulfilling legislative mandates to save glaciers. The pace has even drawn a lawsuit. I invite everyone to continue contacting their offices to ask them to be principled ancestors to future generations.
In order to achieve success, Biden will need support from the Colorado Delegation. Sen. John Hickenlooper was assigned to four senate committees of importance to the environment — the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources; the Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions; the Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation; and the Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship. Sen. Michael Bennet sits on the senate’s Committee on Finance, and the Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry committee.
Local Rep. Diana DeGette serves on the House Committee on Energy and Commerce and the House Committee of Natural Resources. Another notable on the House Committee on Natural Resource is Rep. Lauren Boebert from Rifle.
Each committee decides on significant public policies. They should be leaders in the fight for a just transition that empowers a clean economy and remediates our toxic past. They should seek justice from the polluters for the people they represent. They should call us in to help in the fight. This is an all-hands-on-deck moment.
Let us not forget summer days when the sun was blotted out by wildfire smoke, and hospitals full with respiratory ailments on top of COVID-19. We expect Sen. Hickenlooper, Sen. Bennet and Rep. DeGette to be leaders of the Colorado Delegation and to accept nothing short of solutions that actually meet the needs of the crisis — climate, environmental and social justice are simultaneous priorities. Our Colorado leaders have influence in critical committees, meaning WE the people of Denver have the power to lead the way globally.
Ean Thomas Tafoya is a climate and government activist. He can be reached at @BelieveEan on Twitter.
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