Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper (D-CO), elected in 2010 in one of the states most affected by climate change, now questions whether it is even happening. Hickenlooper told a Denver audience that he wouldn’t say “the sky is falling and that climate change is happening,” the Pueblo Chieftain reports:
I’m not going to go out and say the sky is falling and that climate change is happening, but I’m very concerned about the risk of climate change. That many smart people are that worried, that I’d be a fool not to be concerned.”
A former geologist, Hickenlooper had expressed skepticism of the overwhelming scientific consensus about global warming at a speech before mining executives during the 2010 campaign. “I don’t think that the scientific community has decided with certainty that climate change is as catastrophic as so many people think,” he said.
That year, approximately 100,000 spruce trees a day were killed by a spruce beetle infestation spurred by warming temperatures in Colorado.
Also in 2010, ThinkProgress Green interviewed some of Colorado’s many climate scientists to respond to global warming conspiracy theorist Ken Buck, the Republican candidate for U.S. Senate. “There is no controversy about the role human actions have made to alter the climate system through the emissions of greenhouse gases over the past 150 years,” Dennis Ojima, chair of Colorado State’s Natural Resource Ecology Laboratory and a senior scholar with the Heinz Center said.
“It’s very likely it’s disruptive to anything we’re doing and take for granted at the moment,” Caspar M. Ammann, a scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research cautioned.
In 2009, Hickenlooper wasn’t as scornful of the scientific threat of carbon pollution from fossil fuels, instead calling it “one of the greatest challenges of our time.” Writing in the forward for “How the West Was Warmed,” Hickenlooper said that “the Rocky Mountain region is a showcase for both the most immediate and most dramatic impacts of global warming, from the mountain pine beetle epidemic to shrinking glaciers.”
(HT Colorado Independent)
“There are many things to admire in Gov. Hickenlooper’s record of public service,” Center for American Progress Senior Fellow Tom Kenworthy tells ThinkProgress Green. “Being resolute on climate change is not one of them. Without decisive leadership and action, Colorado will lose a great deal to climate change. Our forests, our ski industry, our agricultural economy, our coldwater fisheries, our Colorado River lifeblood, all are at risk.”