FOLBR - Friends Of the Lower Blue River

Sustainable Hiker - Beyond the Trail Series

Climate Change is a Major Risk

By Tom Koehler

In last month’s article, I highlighted how serious the problem is with our water resources here in the Lower Blue and all down the Colorado River. This river that serves up to 40 million people from Denver to Los Angeles has seen its flow dwindle 20% from last century. Most is attributable to climate change according to US Geological Survey scientists Chris Milly and Krista A. Dunne. They estimate the River supports approximately $1 Trillion of economic activity annually.

Flows start high in the Rockies in forested watersheds that we hold dear for their beauty and recreation. These watersheds filter pollutants out of the air and water and possess amazing carbon capture properties through soil and vegetation, including trees. But our forests that provide all this are at risk

Years of fuels buildup due to fire suppression have set the stage for more powerful wildfires when you add in progressively warmer temperatures. The United States Forest Service has a climate change resource center on their website to let you know how serious they take this risk. The frequency and severity of wildfire across the US over the last few years has accelerated.

This places enormous strain on an agency that is under funded year after year, so important work in wildlife habitat, vegetation and trail maintenance is all deferred.

Our financial assets are at risk as well. According to the Morgan Stanley Institute for Sustainable Investing, “climate change is an investment consideration impossible to ignore, as related disasters and economic losses grow, and regulators increasingly recognize it as a systemic risk”. This means the normal functioning of the financial markets is at risk, including traditional banking, equity, and debt markets. The value of a company’s financial assets possesses much downside risk in a systemic shock scenario due to climate change.

Interestingly, investment into our natural eco-systems to mitigate against climate change will help these very resources. Asking the corporate world to go green with their operations and supply chain is merely asking them to protect their assets, that many Americans own.

I look forward to providing definitive steps you and your organization can take to protect our natural and financial asset infrastructure.

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