Climate change, its causes and the way to combat it was the topic of discussion at the Lakewood legislative group’s first town hall meeting after the summer break.
Reps. Brittany Pettersen and Max Tyler and Sens. Cheri Jahn and Andy Kerr were on hand to hear a presentation from Dr. Chuck Kutscher of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) on the environmental danger the planet is in.
“I’ve been working with Chuck for several years on this,” Tyler said. “This is going to be the defining issue for the next generation and have enormous impact on our children and grandchildren’s future.”
Kutscher started his presentation by stating that there is a lot of controversy about the subject, but within the scientific community, there is very little doubt that climate change is happening and human are the cause of it. He said about 97 percent of scientists agree about this fact.
“Climate change, and the danger of carbon emissions are not a new idea” Kutscher said. “This is something they’ve known about since at least the 1950s. We’ve added about 40 percent more carbon dioxide to the atmosphere when we started burning fossil fuels.”
Kutscher talked about the changes in temperature and carbon dioxide levels, as well as changes in water levels and ice. He said that ocean levels could rise one to two meters within the audience’s grandchildren’s lifetimes, which could cause severe damage to coastal areas.
“Some of the extreme weather that we’re seeing many scientists believe is tied to climate change,” he said. “We’re seeing more wildfires and hotter fires. We had the worst wildfire in Colorado’s history last year with the Waldo Canyon Fire, which was superseeded this year by the Black Forest Fire.”
He said there are positive sings of change, with things like world wind power on the increase, but not enough has been done yet.
Several residents raised questions about the veracity of many of Kutscher’s claim, and while he acknowledged that the issue is divisive to many, he emphasized that the vast majority of the scientific community agrees about climate change.
Questions from residents ranged to how to get elected officials to work harder on this topic to Xcel providing more solar panel opportunities.
“I came because I wanted to see what was available for people to do in Lakewood,” said Rick Creswell. “It’s also nice to come and get information to refute some of the claims against climate change.”