The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Climate Change Melts the Rockies


A perfect storm in the Rocky Mountains driven by population growth,
a warming climate, and economic development has put both the region's
ecosystems and its economy in jeopardy, according to the latest issue
of World Watch magazine.

"If the Rocky Mountain states want to continue to see growing, robust
economies and levels of personal income as well as the quality of life
that is so appealing, then the smart money is on investing to protect
natural, amenity-producing areas throughout the region from the impacts
of spreading development," writes Lina Barrera, who examines the ways
in which a changing climate is affecting this vast mountain range and
its surrounding areas in the first installment of the World Watch occasional series "Portraits of Climate Change."

The average winter temperature in the U.S. West has risen roughly 1.4
degrees Celsius over the last century. Residents have witnessed the
manifestations of this change in smaller mountain snowpacks, an
increase in rainfall over snowfall, and a rise in winter lows.

These changes put many species with specific habitat and temperature
needs at risk, but they also threaten to destroy the very natural areas
that are sustaining the region's economic prosperity. Energy
development, water scarcity, and growing populations all have the
potential to stall the steady growth this region has enjoyed to date.

The Worldwatch Institute was a globally focused environmental research organization based in Washington, D.C., founded by Lester R. Brown. Worldwatch was named as one of the top ten sustainable development research organizations by Globescan Survey of Sustainability Experts. Brown left to found the Earth Policy Institute in 2000. The Institute was wound up in 2017, after publication of its last State of the World Report. was unreachable from mid-2019.