The northern arm of the Rocky Mountains is sometimes called "the crown of the continent," and its jewels are glaciers and snowfields that irrigate large parts of North America during spring thaw.
But the region is getting warmer, even faster than the rest of the world. Scientists now say warming is scrambling the complex relationship between water and nature and could threaten some species with extinction as well as bring hardship to ranchers and farmers already suffering from prolonged drought.
VF Corp. is one of the biggest clothing companies you might not have heard of. But its brands include Lee and Wrangler jeans, Timberland shoes and The North Face, and it also makes uniforms for police and major league sports teams.
It's also a large purchaser of cotton. "We buy roughly 1 percent of the cotton available in the world," says Letitia Webster, VF's senior director of sustainability. Her job is to both reduce the company's greenhouse gas footprint and reduce its risks from climate change.
Concrete from streets and buildings create higher heat levels downtown.
Credit National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration / Wikimedia Commons
It’s common knowledge that city dwellers experience higher temperatures than their neighboring rural counterparts. Climate change exacerbates the situation. For residents in the Denver Metro area, temperatures are rising faster than most cities.
Cesar Nufio is holding a box of dead grasshoppers. The insects, precisely pinned, with miniscule labels affixed beneath them, march down the box in neat, dark lines.
The grasshoppers are just a sampling of a 50-year-old set of 13,000 grasshoppers that Nufio, an entomologist at the University of Colorado, is using to learn about climate change. Until the scientist happened upon them about a decade ago, this collection was nearly forgotten – stored in 250 wooden boxes atop a shelf. Ever since finding the collection, Nufio has been piecing together the story of the lost grasshoppers, and is using them to understand how the change in the area's climate is affecting the insects.
Climate change is creating all kinds of challenges and opportunities for business. One of the sectors that feels the effects most immediately is agriculture. Already, weather patterns are making it more challenging to raise corn — even in Iowa — in the middle of the Corn Belt.
Seth Watkins raises corn and cattle in southern Iowa, and he recalls the memorable weather from 2012.