Oct 192010
Authors: Andrew Carrera

Professor Scott Denning of CSU’s Atmospheric Science department faced the shouting of a peeved audience member in the Lory Student Center last year as he lectured about CO2 and climate change.

“It must have been 300 people. It was a big group,” Denning said. “I had somebody get up and say, ‘Dr. Denning, have you read the
Waxman-Markey bill? Have you read every page of that legislation? How can you get up and advocate for this bill if you haven’t even
read it?’

But the climate scientist was not pushing policymaking.

“I was like, ‘I’m not advocating for this bill. I’m just telling this climate science story. What you vote for, don’t vote for –– that’s up to you. I’m not trying to cram opinions down your throat,’” he said.

On Tuesday evening, Denning lectured and took questions from a crowd of around 100 CSU students and community members in the campus Engineering building on what he said were self-evident facts of the role CO2 plays in warming the Earth.

The problem with the current debate, he said, is that climate change deniers fall prey to common misconceptions of global warming, like the idea that the scientific community’s concern is based on recent warming or computer models. He later added that the majority of Americans apparently do not subscribe to a wholesale dismissal of the issue.

“A small but vocal minority has been able to manipulate the media through blogs and other mediums,” he said.

He attended the 4th Annual International Conference on Climate Change, which took place in Chicago in May of this year. There he
lectured a group of 500 climatologists who were reconsidering the science and economics of popular theories of global warming, challenging the idea that it was a horrific manmade occurrence.

Denning’s talk, called “Engaging organized climate change denial,” was formed partly from his experiences at the conference.

Organized by English professor John Calderazzo and other department faculty members, the seminar is only the latest in a series of similar climate talks that have gone on for 3 years and included nine sessions involving CSU faculty and students. Crowds of up to
350 people have attended to hear Denning speak on campus.

“We act like intellectual talent agents,” said Calderazzo on organizing the events. “You have this great university that’s really strong in this area … Our goal is to make students more literate about evidence based stuff not a whole bunch of political arguing.”

But Calderazzo is no talent agent for William “Bill” Gray, a nationally acclaimed CSU atmospheric science professor and climate change skeptic.

Calderazzo does not organize events on behalf of Gray. According to Calderazzo, more than 95 percent of scientists accept basic facts of CO2 and global warming, which makes it unreasonable to provide minority views equal representation.

“That’s like 98 hands versus one hand,” he said.

Gray was not available for comment at the time of print.

Andrew Beach, a junior natural resource management and agricultural economics double major, said that, while the talk contained information with which he was already familiar, he particularly agreed with Denning’s observation on the politics of the global warming.

“It’s one of the best talks I’ve heard in a while,” Beach said. “We need to stop caring about winning and being so defensive about this and understand that nobody’s going to win in the end if we don’t come together and stop this right now.”

Staff writer Andrew Carrera can be reached at news@collegian.com.

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