This is an archived article that was published on in 2017, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Recently, I traveled from Salt Lake City to Denver for a Climate Reality Leadership Corps training. Former Vice President Al Gore and his team taught and inspired a room of nearly 1,000 people about the urgency of climate change. We made a pledge to bring that message back to our communities.

Climate change isn't a far off possibility. Its effects are felt here now. Today. Yesterday. Tomorrow. Temperatures in the month of February were off the charts. Since each month seems to be breaking heat records, I'll bet March is included too. In fact, our state has already warmed two degrees Fahrenheit in the last century. Because of this, we are already seeing reduced snowpack, an increase in the frequency and intensity of wildfires, more effects from thriving pests like the bark beetle, and increased air pollution from dust. Utah is changing and we need bold action by our policymakers to mitigate the worst impacts of a warming world.

Our elected officials in Utah refuse to hear that message. Literally.

The six-week state legislative session just recently wrapped up and two important climate change resolutions got little attention.

SJR09, a joint resolution on climate change, crafted by high school and college students, was never heard in front of the Senate Natural Resources, Agriculture, and Environment committee because the chair, Senator Margaret Dayton, R-Orem, outright refused to have it heard. A second resolution, HJR18, Joint Resolution on Economic and Environmental Stewardship, which addresses the causes and effects of climate change here in the state of Utah, was heard in front of the House Economic Development and Workforce Services Committee but failed to move forward.

It is perhaps a sign of how far we are from action on climate change in Utah that we take some solace that five legislators — including three Republicans — supported the latter resolution.

The current reality we find ourselves in, highlighted by the lack of movement on either of these resolutions, comes seven years after the passage of a grossly misinformed and denial-laced joint resolution denying climate change. Have we not learned in the past seven years?

Legislators fear the impact on Utah's economy if we address the climate emergency, yet continued warming of our state will have unimaginable impacts. Waiting to take action is like a ticking time bomb whose effects, when detonated, will strike worldwide, including here in Utah. Will we finally take climate change seriously when our rivers and lakes have shrunk and we don't have the water necessary for agriculture? How about when we're suffocating under layers of dust or the cattle ranchers have no place to graze their herd? Will we act on climate when the skiers stop coming to our world-class resorts because our snow is no longer "the greatest on earth?"

On Feb. 25, Mormon leader Dallin Oaks expressed concern about sea level rise, and threats to agriculture and world peace due to climate change. A 2015 poll reflected showed that 80 percent of Utahns understand that the planet's climate is changing. The will of the people and some leaders is there. We know it's time to act on climate. Unfortunately, however, we lack enough courageous leaders in our state who take the threat of planetary warming seriously.

The time is now to invest in our future instead of clinging to the past. The Utah state legislators can start by taking the first necessary step to tackling any problem: acknowledging there's a problem – instead of denying it. Passing one of the joint resolutions in the 2017 session would have been a powerful initiative, but a resolution only goes so far. Acting on climate isn't going to be easy; it's going to require that we transition to clean energy and electric vehicles. It means taking a hard look at our consumption patterns and how we construct buildings.

As an arid state, we'll also have to address drought, agriculture and wildfires. The challenge ahead of us is great, but Utah is known for our independence and ingenuity. Let's harness that power to protect our state. Let's demand that our elected officials be brave enough to admit that climate change is a serious threat to our quality of life and we must act to preserve that best parts of our beloved state.

Laura Schmidt is outreach coordinator for HEAL Utah.