The city's chief executive is in Copenhagen, Denmark this week for the world's climate change conference and says the evidence he's seen from scientists across the world is "shocking."
"It's pretty compelling," the mayor said by phone on Tuesday morning. "It really does make you say, 'Gosh, I know it's going to be hard. It's going to be unpopular [to change].' My takeaway is I want to come back to Denver and sit down with every skeptic I can find and just walk them through all the evidence."
Hickenlooper says he was invited by the White House to share Denver's story of working with the suburbs on the FasTracks expansion of RTD. In addition to sharing the city's transportation message, he's met with Copenhagen leaders to discuss how that city's been able to increase the number of residents who commute by transit or bicycle to work every day.
Thirty-seven percent of Copenhagen residents ride bikes to work compared with only 2 percent of Denver's residents. Hickenlooper says while he never expects Denver to match that figure, light rail expansion offers the city and region an opportunity to build "little villages" that encourage people to live, shop and work in their neighborhoods.
"When you're planning and building a city, you can't do it for next year or for the next five years," he said. "What you've got to be thinking about is your children's grandchildren and it's a different way of thinking than a lot of Americans are used to."
The mayor says there is complete agreement across the ideological spectrum that the world's supply of oil will end sooner rather than later and that segueing to different energy sources while consuming less in the process is doable without huge public investment.
"We don't have to have giant programs," Hickenlooper said. "We can do it in a thoughtful way and really focus on our quality of life."
Hickenlooper has been traveling with Dr. Kirk Johnson, Chief Curator and Vice President of Research and Collections at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science. All attendees of the conference have been given a rail pass and there are no cabs out in front of the center where the meetings are being held. Hickenlooper said aside from almost "boarding a train that took us to Sweden," the traveling has been easy and efficient.
(Copyright KUSA*TV, All Rights Reserved)