By Gabrielle Filter
The Collegiate Peaks Forum presents geologist Christian Shorey speaking on “A Brief History of Climate Science” at 7 p.m. Thursday, July 26, at the SteamPlant Event Center, 220 W. Sackett Ave., Salida.
Shorey, assistant department head of geology and geological engineering at Colorado School of Mines, says that, even though climate change is sometimes seen as a hoax, science is clear that humans are emitting more carbon into the atmosphere than ever before.
In his podcast Earth and Environmental Science, Shorey’s episode titled “A Brief History of Global Warming” makes a crucial distinction between weather and climate.
He says, “Weather is a day-to-day state of the atmosphere, whereas climate is the average of the atmosphere over a time period that is usually greater than 30 years. … So we can’t say we saw a lot of hurricanes over a year – that’s global warming. A lot of hurricanes in one year is a weather phenomena, not a change of climate.”
Shorey says this year’s Colorado forest fires are a weather phenomena. “If this were averaged over a long period of time, it would be a climate phenomena, and we’d have to see a change in the long-term average to call it climate change.”
Shorey says evidence of climate change can be seen in the enhanced greenhouse effect. “The greenhouse effect works because heat can’t escape from the greenhouse as easily as the light comes in. … There’d be no way that we could have life on this planet without the greenhouse effect, but what we’re concerned about today is that we’ve enhanced the greenhouse effect,
that’s the difference.”
The greenhouse effect provides the warmth for life on Earth, but now it’s getting too warm, Shorey says. “Our industrialized lifestyles have increased the amount of carbon dioxide being emitted into the atmosphere, and that carbon dioxide has nowhere to go, which increases the climate’s temperature.”
Even though some of this information may be politically posed as controversial, “There is no debate that there is a definite rise in carbon dioxide in our atmosphere,” Shorey says. “We actually are causing a change in carbon dioxide in the climate. … The accumulation of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere does have serious disadvantages over long time intervals. … The oceans are not doing our dirty work for us, they aren’t taking up all the carbon.”
The forum is free and open to the public. The Collegiate Peaks Forum lecture series presents lectures regarding the interrelationship of philosophy, spirituality and science through academic stimulation, related discussions and ensuing insights.