Temperature data from eleven western states over five years shows the Colorado River basin was 2.2 degrees Fahrenheit hotter than the historical average for the past century, more than twice the global average increase during the same period. This is according to a study by the Rocky Mountain Climate Organization (RMCO), a coalition of 17 local governments, Colorado's largest water provider, 17 businesses and 11 nonprofits.
In a press release on March 27, study author Stephen Saunders said: “Since 2000 we have seen $2.7 billion in crop loss claims due to drought. Global warming is harming valuable commercial salmon fisheries, reducing hunting activity and revenues, and threatening shorter and less profitable seasons for ski resorts.”
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Prolonged drought in the Colorado River basin threatens water supplies for the 30 million people in fast-growing western cities such as Denver, Albuquerque, Las Vegas, Phoenix, Los Angeles and San Diego. Seven of the eleven states (Arizona, California, Montana, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah and Washington) and two Canadian provinces (British Columbia and Manitoba) have joined the Western Climate Initiative (WCI), agreeing to cut global warming pollution through a market-based system, such as cap-and-trade.
The full report, jointly published by the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and RMCO, "Hotter and Drier: The West's Changed Climate," draws on 50 scientific studies, 125 other government and scientific sources, and NRDC-RMCO's own new analyses. It documents the evidence that the West is being affected more by a changed climate than any other part of the United States outside of Alaska.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Chapter 1: The West Is Getting Hotter
Chapter 2: The West is Getting Drier
Chapter 3: The Colorado River: Hotter and Drier
Chapter 4: Disruption of Ecosystems
Chapter 5: Global Warming Harms Business, Recreation, and Tourism
Chapter 6: Immediate Action Can Curb Global Warming
Chapter 7: Policy Conclusions and Recommendations
Appendix: A State-by-State Analysis of Warming in the West