CSU professor makes climate change simple for Jan. 23 Talking Green | SteamboatToday.com

CSU professor makes climate change simple for Jan. 23 Talking Green

Suzie Romig for Steamboat Today

The breathtaking beauty of the snow-covered Maroon Bells, visible from the top of the Aspen Highlands ski area, is at risk of diminishing in the face of strong warming trends forecast by global climate experts.

Colorado State University Professor Scott Denning devotes hundreds of hours each semester to researching and teaching about a serious global issue, yet he works to translate the topic into simple and solvable terms.

That simple explanation of a worldwide concern with solvable engineering solutions is what Denning will present at Yampa Valley Sustainability Council's Talking Green, at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday Jan. 23 at Library Hall in Steamboat Springs.

"I have heard Scott speak multiple times, and it is always extremely interesting and even funny," said Sarah Jones, sustainability council executive director.

Denning earned a master's degree and doctorate in atmospheric science from CSU in Fort Collins and joined the atmospheric science faculty in 1998. The professor has served on advisory panels for NASA, the National Science Foundation, U.S. Department of Energy and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

NOAA tracked $306 billion in weather and climate disasters in the U.S. in 2017, the costliest year on record. NOAA also reports that 2017 was the third warmest year on record in the U.S.

"Climate disruptions could not be more serious," Denning said, "so that is why all Coloradans should learn about the simple science and focus on working together on effective solutions on the community level across the state."

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Denning's talk will focus on three S's of climate change — simple, serious and solvable.

"When the Earth absorbs more heat than it emits, the climate warms. This simple principle explains why day is warmer than night, and summer is warmer than winter," Denning said. "It also explains why adding CO2 to the air causes global warming. The absorption of thermal infrared radiation by CO2 was first measured 150 years ago, has since been confirmed thousands of times by labs all over the world and is extremely well understood. There is no doubt at all that adding CO2 reduces the Earth's heat emission and therefore causes global warming."

"Preventing catastrophic climate change will require abundant and affordable energy to be made available to people everywhere without emitting any CO2 to the atmosphere," Denning said. "This will require both the development of energy efficient infrastructure and very rapid deployment of non-fossil fuel energy systems, especially in the developing world. From an engineering perspective, both objectives are eminently feasible with mature technologies."

The January Talking Green is the first in a series of four climate action presentations hosted by Yampa Valley Sustainability Council this year, including speakers from Snowmass-based Rocky Mountain Institute on March 27 as well as from Protect Our Winters and the Climate Reality Project later in 2018.