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Tour pushing tougher climate change policies visits Pueblo

Tour pushing tougher climate change policies visits Pueblo

PUEBLO, Colo. - A nationwide tour trying to rally support for higher climate change standards stopped in Pueblo Thursday.

The "I will Act on Climate" bus tour is a coalition of environmental and conservation groups around the U.S. The bus will stop in 27 states during the tour. The organization said it stopped in Pueblo because the city is directly impacted by climate change.

Patrick Massaro with Conservation Colorado spoke at the event.

"'I will Act' campaign is a national bus tour to encourage citizens from states all over the country to act on climate change just as the president recently did, announcing his new climate action plan which would reduce carbon emissions, increase energy efficiency, promote renewable energy, all of which will help mitigate the impacts in consequence of climate change," said Massaro.

Massaro calls the Obama administration's executive order "the most ambitious climate change plan the U.S. has ever done."

Sen. Angela Giron said climate change impacts Pueblo farmers and, therefore, the economy.

"They're only planting a third of their crops this year because of the drought," said Giron.

Climate change is a hot-button issue in Colorado and the U.S. Some groups argue climate change is man-made. Others say the climate is cyclical. They argue the climate is hot now, but the climate will cool down again. People in favor of this theory consider climate change policies unnessary.

Colorado's climatologist, Nolan Doesken, said there are valid arguments on both sides.

"In many parts of the state, not all, we are a warmer state than we were 100 years ago or even 50 years ago," said Doesken. "In terms of precipitation, it's always been variable. We've had dry periods, we've had wet periods, and that's where a lot of people will say 'it's just a cycle and it will come back.'"

Doesken collaborates with climatologists around the world. The group uses computer projection models and data gathered since the late 1800s to forecast the world's climate well into the 21st century.

His projections indicate temperatures will continue to get hotter well into the 21st century.

"Our climate is not that much different than it has been in the past. In so many ways, that is a correct statement. The climate has not changed profoundly. Some people perceive that it has, some people perceive that it hasn't," said Doesken.

"We have data and the data show that the climate is at a bit of an upward trend, not a dramatic upward trend but a bit of an upward trend in temperatures," said Doesken.

Doesken said increasing temperatures likely correlate with increased carbon dioxide emission from humans. Precipitation-level projections well into the 21st century are harder to predict.

"What matters so much to Colorado, of course, is water.  And precipitation is the source of our water. We are a headwater state.  We are the headwaters for so many important rivers," said Doesken. "The uncertainty of future precipitation is huge and likewise the variability, the year-to-year changes that we already experience in precipitation, is huge."

"We do have limited water resources.  They are highly variable from year to year and, we are susceptible to drought.  Even without climate change, there is concern statewide about how we utilize and manage our precious water resources," said Doesken.

Doesken said heated debate over this issue isn't going away anytime soon.

"I think about this a lot and, exactly what to do about this, is always a good question because it's hard to get everybody on the same page," said Doesken.

The tour bus headed to Denver after its stop in Pueblo.

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