Colorado Mesa University is hosting climate change denier Steve Goreham this evening, for a speech titled “Energy, Climate Change & Public Policy.”
Mesa County Commissioner Rose Pugliese promoted the event on her Facebook page.
Pugliese has publicly rejected global warming, saying, “It is not a proven scientific theory. There is not evidence to support it.” Pugliese did not return a call requesting comment.
Goreham is the Executive Director of the Climate Science Coalition of America and a policy advisor to the Heartland Institute, a Koch-funded advocacy group that has disputed the reality of climate change and global warming for decades.
The organization’s claims are so dubious that esteemed scientific journal Nature felt the need to editorialize about its suspect assertions back in 2011, saying: “the Heartland Institute’s climate conferences…are curious affairs designed to gather and share contrarian views, in which science is secondary to wild accusations and political propaganda.”
While not a scientist himself, Goreham says he is a “researcher on environmental issues,” who has published several books disputing climate change. Reviews of his writing have not been particularly kind, such as this 2013 review in the Guardian, “Heartland Institute wastes real scientists’ time – yet again.”
In an author’s note to one of his earlier books, Goreham states,
“the science clearly shows that global warming is due to natural causes, despite the tidal wave of world belief in man-made climate change.
Goreham is also a founding member of the group “Climate Exit,” which urges countries to withdraw from international climate accords in the strongest of terms: “The world must abandon this suicidal Global Warming crusade. Man does not and cannot control the climate.”
Dr. Deborah Kennard, Professor of Environmental Science & Technology at Colorado Mesa University plans on attending the talk and has encouraged her students in the Environmental Studies department to do so as well.
“Human influence on current changes in our climate isn’t debated in the scientific community anymore,” said Kennard. “Nevertheless we’re using this speech as a teaching moment so our students can see how scientific information is misinterpreted outside of scientific circles.”
In a guest column for the Grand Junction Sentinel, Steve Soychak, Director of CMU’s Landman Energy Management Program which is sponsoring Goreham’s talk, argued the benefits of fossil fuels and against the efficacy of renewable energy sources.
Soychak wrote: “It is ludicrous to think that we could live in a modern society without fossil fuels… Intermittent energy sources such as wind turbines and solar panels are also fossil-fuel derivatives. They…use a great deal of energy for the processing/manufacturing of carbon steel, silicon, lightweight materials, magnets, plastics, concrete, and many other materials…I have never been able to calculate a reasonable payout or rate of return on a wind turbine without subsidies or when including the rebuilding costs.”
Soychak also said he initially intended the event to be a debate and reached out to CSU’s Center for the New Energy Economy, the Governor’s Energy Office, Xcel Energy and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory Center, but was told nobody was available. Reasons included “we don’t debate policy” and “you should have an economist rather than an engineer debate these issues.”
Reached for comment, Colorado Sierra Club Director Jim Alexee said “Coloradans are past the point of denying climate change. Everyday we see it impacting our lives. This speaker is obviously out of step with Coloradans and 99.7% of the world’s scientists.” Citing a poll his organization released Wednesday, Alexee noted that “84% of Coloradans want the federal government to act on combating climate change, and 79% of Colorado supports moving the state to 100% clean energy.”
The speech takes place at 6:00pm tonight in the Meyer Ballroom of CMU’s University Center, 1455 N 12th St in Grand Junction.
Colorado Mesa University’s mission statement asserts that “the university has an obligation to offer the highest quality academic programs and services to those whom it serves to enable them to prepare for their future.”