Our decisions to enter public service were predicated on a desire to have a say in shaping our community and even our world for the next generation. As parents, we were worried about what kind of world our children would be left with, and recent events across Colorado have only increased our concerns.
Climate change, which is made worse by carbon pollution in our atmosphere, is devastating the state we all call home. And right now, we are feeling the impacts of the changing climate on nearly a daily basis as monstrous wildfires burn throughout our state.
Our air quality has suffered, and Colorado even set record-high temperatures. We are seeing ash from forest fires float down in our backyards and on our sidewalks and into our lungs. The impacts of climate change aren’t coming down the road – they are here now.
Year after year, our communities are continuing to bear the brunt of our national failure to take on climate action and not prepare for weather and other climate disasters.
We are still paying the price of deadly hail storms that continue to cause billions of dollars in damage to Colorado. And we do not have adequate funding to make needed infrastructure improvements in the oldest parts of our cities, which annually suffer significant losses due to flooding.
When we look at extreme weather events like wildfires and floods, which are made more intense and frequent by climate change, we often hear phrases like “largest of the past hundred years,” “hottest day on record” or “lowest amount of rainfall since recording began.”
We have become almost numb to the meaning of these things, but what scares us is what the science is telling us.
The real alarm here is not that this is the worst it has ever been, but that now is only the beginning of what’s still to come.
By 2050, Colorado is expected to experience nearly 50 heat wave days per year. As our state gets hotter, ozone pollution will continue to get worse, which is something our communities already struggle with. Just last year, the Denver metro region was found to have the 10th worst air quality by ozone pollution in the United States, a dubious recognition.
And as more people relocate to our beautiful state, the demand for clean air, water and lands will only grow. It is clear we need climate action to preserve our state for our children.
We both have had one-on-one conversations with so many constituents, who share not only our concerns but also this vision. We are all worried, but we believe in a future with clean air and clean water for everyone, ensuring that our children’s generation and the generation after them can enjoy the great outdoors.
Our country can innovate and invest to create a future that has clean air and water, but that will require bold climate action today, not tomorrow. Coloradans are concerned about our future, and we know that climate change, public health, infrastructure, air pollution, clean water and public lands are among the most pressing issues we face.
Taking action is hard. No one is saying it isn’t. But when we each do our part and make our voices heard, we can build the world that we wish existed – for us and our children.
Dana Gutwein and Lauren Simpson are both city council members in Colorado. Gutwein lives in Lakewood with her two children and husband. Simpson resides in Arvada with her daughter and husband.
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