Speaker aims to de-mystify global warming for Aspen audience | AspenTimes.com

Speaker aims to de-mystify global warming for Aspen audience

Jeffrey Bennett

Astrophysicist and author Jeffrey Bennett is on a mission to make global warming simpler to understand so that people can focus on solutions rather than bickering.

Bennett is the author of "A Global Warming Primer," a book that is free to download online. He gives free presentations in an effort to "demystify" global warming. He will speak tonight at Aspen Center for Environmental Studies' Hallam Lake office.

"What I try to do in my work is I try to make science understandable for students and the public," Bennett said via telephone from his Boulder office earlier this week.

Too often, people on both sides of the debate get in over their heads with details when discussing global warming, he said. He looks at the big picture and sticks to science that he categorized as irrefutable.

"I call it 'Global Warming 1-2-3.' One, we know greenhouse gases are making the climate warmer than it would be otherwise," Bennett said. "I go through the evidence that makes that indisputable fact.

"Two, we know we're increasing the concentration of those gases in our atmosphere. Similarly, I will go through the evidence of why that is an indisputable fact.

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"And once you take those two things, number three, the conclusion that we're going to cause global warming becomes pretty obvious and difficult or impossible really for anyone to refute," Bennett said.

There is some debate about "climate sensitivity" — meaning how bad the effects of global warming will be and how fast, according to Bennett. But, the vast majority of scientists believe global warming is a significant problem that must be addressed immediately, he said.

He is convinced that humankind will make progress in reducing its greenhouse gases and blunting the effects of climate change. That optimism comes despite the Trump administration's gutting of the Environmental Protection Agency, the president's goals to maximize fossil-fuel extraction and Trump's views as a climate-change denier.

"The United States has definitely taken some backwards steps recently here, but the rest of the world has not," Bennett said. "The only real question is whether we're going to be a leader or a follower, but the world as a whole will respond to this because it's too important to ignore."

Severe weather is helping convince the public that global warming is affecting them directly, Bennett said.

"A common question that the general public has is, 'You're telling me that there's more drought going on then you're telling me there is more floods going on. How can both be true?' The answer is very simple when you understand that there's more heat and energy in the atmosphere," Bennett said.

"More heat means more evaporation. More evaporation means if you're in an area where more is going on currently, you're going to get drier, you can get more drought.

"But more evaporation also means there's more moisture in the atmosphere, which means when it does rain there's more water to come down," he said.

"A very simple prediction of global warming is that more likely when it rains, it's gonna pour," Bennett said.

Bennett's presentation will be from 6 to 8 p.m. at Hallam Lake. It is free and open to the public. He is also speaking today and Friday to kids in Aspen's elementary and middle schools.

His book can be downloaded for free at http://www.global warmingprimer.com/primer.

scondon@aspentimes.com

IF YOU GO:

What: Presentation by astrophysicist Jeffrey Bennett

Where: ACES, Hallam Lake

When: Tonight at 6 p.m.

Why: Bennett says he makes global warming easier to understand

Cost: free and open to the public

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