Online tool localizes climate change for Coloradans

Web site tells stories, offers resources for community
By Staff

Hear the term "climate change," and it's understandable if your mind flashes images of the polar ice cap — quite a distance from the Centennial State. A new vehicle for visual storytelling from CU-Boulder faculty paints a local picture of the phenomenon.

The Learn More About Climate site teams leading climate scientists, many from CU-Boulder, with Colorado storytellers to explain how climate change affects the state — and what some people are doing about it.  The site features five videos and offers resources for students, teachers, community leaders and policymakers.

The initiative is coordinated by the office for university outreach in the Division of Continuing Education and Professional Studies.

"It is an excellent public education tool that presents the facts in an accessible, localized manner," said Anne Heinz, dean of Continuing Education and Professional Studies.

"CU-Boulder is a global leader in energy and climate change research and environmental stewardship," said CU-Boulder Chancellor Philip P. DiStefano. "This initiative puts the research and expertise from our laboratories into the hands of citizens, enabling them to participate in public policy discussions at the local, state and federal levels."

Colorado Sen. Mark Udall commended the university for the effort to localize and promote better understanding of climate change in Colorado.

"I would encourage all Westerners to take action to address this critical issue by using this new tool to discover ways to conserve our region's valuable and limited resources," Udall said. "I hope this Web site will open many minds — not only to the enormous challenge climate change poses for our communities — but also to the opportunities we can pursue to strengthen our economy and promote a more sustainable energy future."

Videos at the site lead viewers through the science of climate change, exploring how it is affecting the state's water supply and ecosystems, and how individuals and organizations are addressing these challenges. Stories from the Denver Zoo to the eastern plains and the mountain forests illustrate how the issue affects the state.

CU-Boulder contributors to the project include the Institute for Arctic and Alpine Research (INSTAAR), National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC), Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES), department of geography, department of ecology and evolutionary biology and the Division of Continuing Education and Professional Studies.