Just a fraction of the predicted impacts of climate change would be enough to threaten the West's business climate.
Consider the effects just in Colorado.
Tourism, Colorado’s second leading industry, supports 253,000 jobs, brings $8.5 billion into our economy and pays over half a billion dollars in state and local taxes. In Eagle, Grand, Jackson, Pitkin and Summit counties, fully three-quarters of all income and half of all jobs come from tourism. The industry is particularly vulnerable to climate change, with less snow hurting skiing and more wildfires hurting summer recreation.
Skiing is the biggest contributor to our tourism industry. One out of five skiers and snowboarders in the country take to the slopes of Colorado’s 27 resorts – far more than in any other state.
Related businesses also depend on skiing, providing skiers with transportation, lodging and meals and supplying them with equipment and clothing. A downturn in skiing would depress property values near ski resorts, reduce tax revenues and disrupt entire communities.
Water, essential always and scarce here, determines much of what happens in Colorado. Less reliable water supplies could lead to stricter water restrictions, new growth limits and more transfers of water from the Western Slope and farms and ranches to Front Range cities. And even one city running seriously short of water would make the whole state less attractive to businesses and workers.