Luncheon – March 16, 2007

Title: A Geologist’s View on Global Change: Does it Impact Us in Colorado?

Speaker: Bob Raynolds, Research Associate, Denver Museum of Nature & Science

Date: March 16, 2007

Publication: The Outcrop, March 2007, p. 5

Geologic time affords one the perspective to contemplate changes of process and phenomena spanning billions and billions of years.A9Ryn02ut_61dirp_bg8

In our lifetime and in our State, changes can be hard to discern. Some happen slowly and out of sight like falling water tables or rising CO2 levels – but others are evident, even palpable. A challenge for us as informed geoscientists is to comprehend and communicate these changes both within our community and beyond, to the public.

To help me understand the issues, I have compiled global change curves recorded over millions, thousands, hundreds, and tens of years. These curves of change illustrate dramatic swings in climate. Each time-frame shows a different pattern … long term histories show that it has been far warmer in the past and that trends are cooling; shorter term histories emphasize the importance of orbital parameters in modulating global climate patterns, while still shorter term data sets emphasize the remarkable changes that have taken place in our atmospheric composition since the Industrial Revolution. The data speak eloquently, revealing trends and patterns that have often been obscured during the popular debate on global change.

This presentation will place Colorado in the context of some of the world-wide changes that are afoot. While a long way from sea level, and in a setting where slightly warmer winters might be welcomed by many, Colorado has already been dramatically impacted by recent changes that may be tied to global patterns. Consider the data sets and draw your own conclusions.

The field of earth sciences has enjoyed a series of profound revolutions in thought that have cascaded throughout our science. The understanding of evolution, the appreciation of the depth of geologic time, and the advent of plate tectonics are three of these. I propose that the recognition of the dynamic character of global climate shares rank among the top five breakthroughs that have impacted our multidisciplinary science. We live in the era where this recognition is taking place and the manifestations are becoming evident to our citizenry. Earth scientists have the opportunity to place these issues in perspective and to assist the populace in making informed, cost-effective decisions about reasonable strategies with which to approach our new era. Join the fray.

Dr. Bob Raynolds has been a Principal Investigator in the Denver Museum’s research project to study the geology and groundwater resources of the Denver Basin. He has worked and traveled extensively around the world, and one of his specialties is sedimentation in active orogenic areas.