Colorado State University professor holds panel on climate change

Shawn Brown

In a room full of more than 40 students, staff and community members Colorado State University Professor Scott Denning delivered a seminar on the reality of climate change Monday and how simple, serious and solvable it can be.

Denning, who has researched atmospheric science for over 20 years, began his seminar with a simple example of the difference between weather and climate.


“If you don’t like the weather wait five minutes, if you don’t like the climate move,” Denning said in one example.

Denning stated that the science behind climate change can be relatively simple.

Afterwords he showed how certain molecules can have greater potential of heat absorption. He brought his demonstration to life by describing the vibrating molecules as dancing molecules. His demonstration showed how certain molecules could “dance” or vibrate more, and these molecules absorb more heat in the atmosphere and contribute to green house gas emissions.

The molecules in our atmosphere that have higher potential to store heat are called green house gasses.

Denning’s second topic covered the seriousness of the issue. With a graphic demonstration he described how Colorado’s climate could rapidly become more like the climate of Texas or Arizona. He also talked about how the climate problem has little to do with population and more to do with how we use our energy.

He also covered the possible effects of climate change if it continues to go unregulated. According to him, national droughts and wildfires will likely increase with time. He also briefly mentioned the rising sea levels that climate change could cause.

His last point was on how climate change is solvable. He described a strategy called a “wedge” that can reduce carbon emissions. The strategy has already been commercialized other places in the world. The wedges could include energy efficiency and conservation, fuel switching, CO2 capture and storage, nuclear fission, renewable fuel usage and forest and soil storage.

Collegian Reporter Shawn Brown can be reached at or on Twitter at @shawnb303.