In 2019 our lawmakers were suckered into passing HB19-1261, which calls for steep reductions in greenhouse-gas emissions (GHG) in Colorado. It is based on a completely fraudulent premise:
"Reducing statewide greenhouse gas pollution as outlined in this subsection (2) will protect these frontline communities, first responders, and all Colorado residents from these and other climate impacts."
Coloradans deserve to know how many of our lawmakers are so ignorant of science that they actual believe that statement.
We don’t live in a bubble. Weather fronts come through Colorado so frequently that any GHG produced “statewide” are blown out of state before they can affect our climate directly.
Emissions from natural gas used to heat office buildings in Denver in the winter are not causing drought in Durango in the summer. Emissions from oil and gas facilities in Weld County are not causing higher temperatures in Grand Junction in the summer.
The climate impacts we are experiencing in Colorado are a result of global warming caused by emissions from countries around the world. All emissions, including those from Colorado, contribute to global warming, but Colorado produces only about 120 million tons of CO2 equivalents, or only about 0.21% of the 2019 total Global GHG of 57,400 million tons.
Cutting GHG produced in Colorado by 100%, which would cut global GHG by only 0.21%, would not achieve any measurable reduction in global warming, and it would do nothing to reduce climate impacts in Colorado.
Since our lawmakers apparently have not abused climate science enough, we now have SB21-200, which states:
"As we [Colorado] continue to emit greenhouse gases into the atmosphere over the next decade, and even over the next few years, we will continue to exacerbate the climate damages we [Colorado] are already seeing and increase the risk of catastrophic disruption."
Colorado deserves to have laws based on science, not fantasy. Lawmakers need to stop pushing the lie that reducing GHG produced in Colorado will reduce the climate impacts we experience in Colorado.
The single most objective measurement of global warming is the level of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere. Due to man-made emissions, CO2 levels have risen about 137 parts per million from pre-industrial levels to about 415 parts per million in 2019.
If we eliminate all GHG produced in Colorado, we might reduce the rise in CO2 in the atmosphere by 0.21% of 137, or about 0.3 parts per million. That means that if we spend tens of billions of dollars to eliminate GHG in Colorado, CO2 in the atmosphere might drop from 415 to 414.7 parts per million.
As sponsors of SB21-200, Sen. Faith Winter and Rep. Dominique Jackson should make clear, definitive statements about whether they actually believe that reducing GHG produced in Colorado will have any effect on the climate in Colorado. If they do, they should quit embarrassing themselves and withdraw the bill.
Otherwise, they need to make clear, definitive statements explaining exactly how it will protect Colorado from climate change if we reduce CO2 in the atmosphere from 415 down to 414.7 parts per million.
It is also time for all of the eco-bullies who continue to push for earlier and stricter limits on emissions to put up or shut up. Colorado has to deal with ongoing deception and misrepresentation about climate change from Western Resource Advocates, Conservation Colorado, Natural Resources Defense Council, Environmental Defense Fund, WildEarth Guardians, and Colorado Communities for Climate Action, among others.
Before these eco-bullies make any more unsubstantiated claims that Colorado must push farther and faster to reduce emissions, every one of them needs to state clearly and precisely, on the record, exactly how reducing GHG produced in Colorado would benefit Colorado, or the world, for that matter. They need to present science-based, quantitative benefits rather than continuing to spout unscientific propaganda that reducing GHG by any amount makes a difference.
Yes, we have had drought and wildfires, but they have been caused by global warming, not emissions from Colorado. If even one of the eco-bullies can present scientific evidence to prove that GHG from the north Front Range made any contribution to the Pine Gulch fire last year, that would be incredibly interesting information. Please include the weather charts showing how the emissions flowed west.
Given that reducing GHG in Colorado by 100% will have no effect on reducing climate impacts in Colorado, arguing about how soon we need to cut emissions by 50% is a meaningless discussion.
Winter also sponsored HB19-1261. Part of that bill states that the Air Quality Control Commission must do a cost-benefit analysis before implementing any new laws. Let’s stop the outrageous hypocrisy. Before there is any more discussion of SB21-200, Winter needs to demonstrate how reducing GHG by 50% justifies any expense whatsoever, regardless of whether it is in 2025, 2030 or 2035.
Barney Strobel is a retired chemical engineer in Centennial who worked in the field of air-pollution control for several years.