Southwest Colorado is in a drought of exceptional level, the most severe level of drought intensity categories, according to a map released Jan. 7 by the U.S. Drought Monitor.
Drought affects Colorado’s agriculture: crop yields are stunted, large-scale hay shortages occur, ranchers sell off livestock before maturity, irrigation reservoir and agriculture pond levels decrease or dry up completely.
Drought affects our tourism, with less snowpack and shorter snow seasons in winter, and low flows in rivers and lakes affecting recreation in summer.
By far our greatest threat from drought is wildfires, affecting our natural resources and our economy. Rough estimates of fire suppression costs in Colorado just in 2020 add up to over $200 million.
Climate change increases the odds of drought worsening now and in the decades ahead; especially at risk is the U.S. Southwest. Warmer temperatures increase evaporation from soil. Very dry soils and diminished plant cover can further suppress rainfall in an already dry area.
Decreasing our carbon emission pollution levels requires effective national legislation. I encourage our Rep. Lauren Boebart to use her voice and vote to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Our future droughts levels and our economy depend on it.