Opinion: Hot, rainy and extreme. What explains the crazy Colorado weather in 2023?

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What explains the crazy weather in Colorado and Denver?

Colorado has broken more than 350 daily high temperature records, and Denver has seen a record pace for heat records this year. Grand Junction recorded 107 degrees on July 17. Average temperatures in western Colorado are now at least four degrees warmer than pre-industrial levels. Colorado It recorded nearly 1,400 reports of tornadoes in 2023, more than double the number of reports in 2022.

Was this wild weather unusual? Is it because of the El Nino pattern that is forming in the Pacific Ocean? No, it’s not unusual. And not just because of El Nino, but mainly because of climate change, a long-term warming trend.

Many recent reports have indeed confirmed that this is affecting many weather and climate extremes, such as heat waves, droughts, wildfires, heavy rains and hurricanes. These include reports Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) by 2022The United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) annual Emissions Gap Report was released on November 20, and a new report from federal agencies – The fifth national climate assessment released on November 14 – covers ten American states and is of particular importance to us as it explores the entire Southwest region.

The IPCC warns that “human-induced climate change, including frequent and severe extreme events, will have widespread adverse impacts and related losses and damages in nature and people… pushing natural and human systems beyond their capacity. “If timely action is not taken to effectively address the unprecedented changes in the climate system, these changes will have devastating impacts on the planet and all life on it,” he warned.

According to the UNEP report, “The world is experiencing an alarming acceleration in the number, speed and scale of climate records being destroyed. It warned that even if countries meet their carbon-cutting plans, the planet could face a warming of between 2.5°C and 2.9°C by the end of the century, and possibly as much as 3°C. Scientists warn that if the Earth warms to these levels, it will make parts of the planet uninhabitable and possibly lead to an irreversible tipping point. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said leaders “cannot kick the can any further” and called for dramatic climate action, adding that the “emissions gap is like an emissions tunnel” and the world must “reverse course”. He said.

The National Climate Assessment brings climate change impacts down to the national and local levels. In the year Since 1970, the lower 48 states have warmed by 1.4 degrees Celsius and Alaska by 2.3 degrees Celsius, he said. The message is clear: climate change is “affecting physical, mental, spiritual, and community health and well-being, with an ever-increasing number of extreme events, increasing cases of infectious and vector-borne diseases, and declining food and water quality.” and security”

The report found that climate change is affecting people’s well-being, health and livelihoods in different ways, with indigenous and minority communities suffering disproportionately across the country.

The report added that extreme heat and drought in the Southwest are reducing water supplies and increasing the risk of wildfires. 31 major climate-related disasters killed 700 people and caused more than $67 billion in damage. Colorado Disasters 2021 includes the Marshall Fire in Boulder County, severe snowstorms and severe drought.

If climate change continues at its current rate, Colorado will experience an increase in wildfires, shrinking snowpack, water scarcity and drought along the Colorado River, and the ski industry and agricultural products vital to Colorado’s economy.

The need for all countries to increase their efforts to reduce emissions to save the planet is clear.

Ved Nanda is Distinguished University Professor and Director of the Ved Nanda Center for International Law at the University of Denver’s Sturm College of Law. His column appears on the last Sunday of every month and welcomes comments at vnanda@law.du.edu

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