Feb 072007
 
Authors: Margaret Canty

With the recent environmental craze spearheaded by Al Gore’s “An Inconvenient Truth,” experts at CSU say it’s more critical then ever for Colorado to take action.

And the plan of action may be up to CSU Vice President Tony Frank.

Frank was recently appointed to the Climate Action Panel, a committee charged with making recommendations on how the state could reduce its carbon emissions – part of a program created by the Rocky Mountain Climate Organization.

“Our goal is for Colorado to eventually become as carbon neutral as possible, decreasing green house gas emissions and thus decreasing global warming,” Frank said.

According to the climate project’s Web site, the private initiative involves several participants, including representatives from local governments, water providers, industry, agriculture, transportation and non-profit groups.

“The program is not charged by the government,” Frank said. “It’s a group of business and civic leaders, including members of Gov. Ritter’s transition team that sit on the panel as well.”

The panel, which includes John Poate, vice president of Colorado School of Mines, and Susan Avery, vice chancellor for research and dean of the graduate school at Colorado-Boulder, will hold six meetings this year, the first of which was held in January.

Keith Paustian, a professor in the Department of Soil and Crop Science and the senior research scientist for the natural resource ecology lab, believes Frank is the right man for the job.

“I think Tony Frank is an excellent choice for the panel,” he said. “Not only does he have an understanding of the issues, but he is also an articulate and well respected representative of CSU.”

The five working groups are composed of experts within specific areas whose purpose is to make assessments and provide policy options for Colorado to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. A final proposal will be introduced in the fall.

With the recent release of a report that says human activity is the primary cause of global climate change over the past 60 years, Frank believes now is the time to focus on the changing climate.

“There is no reasonable doubt that human related carbon emissions are affecting the climate,” he said. “There is going to be a long lag time between taking action and actually seeing the effect that it has on the climate. It’s important to act now before we face potential irreversible effects.”

Colorado isn’t the only state taking action on global warming. Similar public projects are taking place in Arizona, New Mexico and Montana.

“There’s a general sense that it’s time to do something,” Frank said. “Many states and cities are taking actions like this on their own. People want to do whatever they can to reduce carbon emissions.”

After working on several projects related to the changing climate, Amy Swan, a graduate student studying ecology, said it is important that students are aware and involved on this issue.

“We should all care about this because it will affect everyone,” she said. “It could affect the way we live. The climate change could make job opportunities and take others away. Students need to understand this and participate in the government’s decisions.”

Paustian agrees.

“The changing climate will affect students here and the young in general to a much greater degree than my generation,” he said. “It’s really going to be their environment that is at stake.”

Frank considers the panel to be a step in the right direction, and if their recommendations are heeded, possibly the beginning to a solution to a globally growing problem.

“This issue matters to all,” he said. “It influences our quality of life and the economic prosperity of the entire nation.”

The panel will meet again on Feb. 15.

For more information, visit the Colorado Climate Project Web site at http://www.coloradoclimate.org/.

Staff writer Margaret Canty can be reached at news@collegian.com.

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