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Finding Our Way Forward, Understanding Our Risk

To our community,

We need look no further than our own backyards to see the impacts of climate change. Just a few months ago, the most destructive wildfire in state history blazed through Boulder County, leaving our neighbors with devastating losses and questions about whether they could ever return to the communities they love. In the summer, parents can’t send their children outside to play because of bad air quality. And unhoused people who used to worry about frigid nights must now contend with equally dangerous risks from scorching hot days.

Not only do these situations remind us that climate change is affecting every aspect of our lives, they highlight the fact that members of our communities do not bear this burden equally. People of color, immigrant groups, Coloradans with lower incomes, children, and older adults are more likely to suffer from the effects of a changing climate. Social factors and context — like age, poverty, discrimination, education, and access to care — all play a role in a person’s risk of climate-related health consequences.

We have a responsibility to take bold steps to advance equity and drive meaningful change. We believe that all Coloradans deserve to be healthy, and that climate change is a significant barrier to health equity.

That is why the Colorado Health Institute and The Denver Foundation are partnering to advance solutions through Acclimate Colorado. Our vision is a Colorado where all communities are prepared to meet the health challenges caused or worsened by a changing climate.

Finding the way forward begins with understanding our risk. The 2022 Health and Climate Index, the first publication released as part of Acclimate Colorado, provides individuals and communities with the information they need to assess their risk. It also shares examples of how communities are taking steps to protect their most vulnerable members.

We hope that decision-makers at the community, regional, and state levels will harness the data in this report to chart a path for building resilient communities.

This is just the beginning. We invite you to join us in the hard work of creating a safer, healthier future for all Coloradans.

Photos and signatures for Michele Lueck, CHI, and Javier Alberto Soto, The Denver Foundation


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Photo: A power plant spreads pollution over the city of Boulder, Colorado.

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