Wyoming Business Leaders Urge Feds to Take Action on Climate
Monday, August 23, 2021
LANDER, Wyo. - Less than a decade remains to avoid potentially catastrophic impacts of a warming planet, according to the latest scientific reports.
Critics of climate proposals making their way through Congress warn that reducing greenhouse-gas emissions will harm the economy, but some business leaders say those plans won't get the job done in time.
Greg Findley is the CEO of Detour, a self-described sustainable tour company in Lander. He pointed to the recent Greater Yellowstone Climate Assessment, which found that significant change is happening even at today's warming levels.
"The snowpack melts off earlier in the spring, the rivers run drier, there's a great deal more drought, and there's less water to irrigate with to keep fish alive," said Findley. "It impacts wildlife. All of this becomes greater at 1.5 degrees (Celsius) and magnitudes worse at 2 degrees."
The Paris Accord calls for governments to limit warming to 1.5 degrees, but this month's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report projects a rise of 2 degrees in the next 20 years.
If fossil fuels continue to burn, global temperatures could reach 3 degrees by the turn of the century, leading to what Findley called a "dystopian nightmare" scenario including large-scale species extinctions, mass migrations and resource wars.
To avoid worst-case scenarios, climate pollution must reach net zero by 2050, which Findley argued will require switching to renewable energy at a much faster pace. But he said the transition should happen in a way that supports communities in Wyoming and other states dependent on fossil fuels.
"Fossil-fuel workers have been the heroes that have powered America," said Findley. "We need to make sure that they are not left behind without good jobs. And I think we can do that as we shift to a clean-energy future."
Over past decades, fossil-fuel companies invested in lobbying and funding research designed to make people question climate science, and Findley said just bringing up the topic today can end conversations. He said Americans should be debating the best solutions for a problem facing all of us.
"Climate change has become controversial," said Findley. "It did not used to be political. It wasn't that long ago when Newt Gingrich and Nancy Pelosi were making commercials about addressing climate change together."
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