Mitigating Climate Change and Its Effects on Air and Water Quality in North-Central Colorado

Mitigating emissions by reducing pollution and sequestering carbon is essential to reduce the impacts of climate change. The most important sources of greenhouse gases (GHGs) are responsible for the heat-trapping effect, known as the “greenhouse effect”, which causes the atmosphere to warm and leads to changes in climate, including more frequent and intense extreme weather events. To protect the health and well-being of Coloradans, it is necessary to comply with state air pollution laws and improve the quality of the air they breathe. Climate change is also expected to alter the geographical range and distribution of insects and pests that transmit diseases, exposing more people to ticks that transmit Lyme disease and to mosquitoes that transmit viruses such as Zika, West Nile and dengue, with varying impacts from region to region.

To address this challenge, we created the Guide to Changing Buildings, which describes and expands on clear solutions for buildings to achieve a cleaner commercial, residential and industrial real estate stock. Additionally, projected increases in smoke episodes from wildfires are expected to impair outdoor recreational activities and visibility in wilderness areas. This partnership will address the challenges and opportunities of climate change in Colorado and will support the achievement of Colorado's ambitious goals in reducing greenhouse gas pollution. Forward-looking infrastructure design, planning and operation measures and standards can reduce exposure and vulnerability to the impacts of climate change while reducing energy use, providing additional short-term benefits such as reducing GHG emissions.

Some of these emissions are regulated by the federal government and the Colorado Air Quality Control Commission. Climate change presents additional risks to interconnected systems, which are already exposed to a range of stressors such as aging and deteriorating infrastructure, changes in land use and population growth. Extreme weather and climate impacts on one system can result in increased risks or failures in other critical systems such as water resources, food production and distribution, energy and transportation, public health, international trade, and national security. The findings consolidate the key messages and supporting evidence from 16 thematic chapters at the national level, 10 regional chapters and 2 chapters that focus on society's response strategies (mitigation and adaptation).

Changes in temperature and rainfall are increasing air quality and health risks from wildfires and ground-level ozone pollution. Adaptation and mitigation policies and programs that help people, communities and states prepare for the risks of a changing climate reduce the number of injuries, illnesses, and deaths due to climate-related health effects. The EPC process identified that one of the water treatment plant's water retention ponds could be used to hold a 75 kW floating solar panel. Even if there were significant reductions in emissions, many of the effects of rising sea levels over this century have already been recorded due to historic emissions, with many communities already facing the consequences.

While these ecosystem changes can generate new opportunities, cultural identities based on historical use of species or natural resources are endangered in many areas. Water management strategies that take into account changing climate conditions can help reduce present and future risks to water security; however, implementation of these practices remains limited. Many indigenous peoples depend on natural resources for their economic, cultural and physical well-being; they are often uniquely affected by climate change.

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