Seeking brainpower: Grand Junction group seeks solutions to Earth’s warming |

Seeking brainpower: Grand Junction group seeks solutions to Earth’s warming

Sharon Sullivan
A scene from the film "Chasing Ice" shows a climber atop an iceberg in Columbia Bay, Alaska.
Submitted photo |

Bird watcher Paul Didier has noticed over the years that many species have extended their range further north by as much as 400 miles.

“There are four species in Grand Junction that were not here when I moved here 13 years ago,” and they’re not just passing through, Didier said. “I’ve seen all four of these nesting here as well.”

Changes in bird and animal behaviors are just two indicators of climate change, the ornithologist said.

In September, after researching the issue for a year and a half, Didier, 78, founded a group to formally study global warming and climate change for the purpose of raising awareness and finding solutions. He formed a “cadre” with other retired professionals possessing different backgrounds and expertise. They call themselves the Grand Valley Global Warming Cadre.

Didier was vice-president of the Chase Manhattan Bank in New York City for 37 years. Fellow cadre members include Paul Deininger, 63, who is a retired chemical engineer, who used to work at Los Alamos National Lab in New Mexico; Jerry Nelson is an economist who works on food security and global warming issues both nationally and internationally; Chris Jauhola is an ecologist; and Rick Baer has studied the issue from the view of politics and his background as an electrician. They take turns each month presenting their research findings to one another.

“We’re concerned about the world we live in, for our children and grandchildren,” Didier said.

As one of their first outreach events, the group is sponsoring on Wednesday, Jan. 29, a documentary showing of “Chasing Ice” — a film that features astounding footage by National Geographic photographer James Balog, who documented years of changing glaciers in Alaska, Montana, Greenland and Iceland. The film screening is at 7 p.m., at Mesa Theater and Club, 538 Main St.

According to the film and the vast majority of climate scientists, oceans are gradually rising as ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica melt. That phenomenon is expected to create dire consequences for the millions who will die or become displaced by the rising water.

“It took millions of years to build up the ice,” Deninger said. “It will only take 50-100 years to melt quite a bit of it.”

Cadre members find it frustrating that many people seem unaware of the gravity of global warming and climate change.

With the film, they hope to raise awareness of what they see as the number-one issue in the world.

“Our goal is to get the vast majority of people to realize it is real and not some stupid political issue,” Deninger said. “Thinking people know this is a natural phenomenon that is man-caused.”

Although “global warming” and “climate change” are terms often used interchangeably, they have two different meanings.

Global warming is the cause of climate change, Didier said. At the same time, the planet is heating up, global warming is also causing unusual cold spells.

Climate change deniers often point to cold temperatures when dismissing the science of global warming. But climate scientists state that Arctic ice melts linked to global warming have contributed to frigid temperatures experienced in Canada and the United States.

Didier points to recent extreme weather events such as Hurricane Sandy, a deadly and costly hurricane that hit the East Coast in 2012; and last year’s strongest ever recorded typhoon in the Philippines as other evidence of climate change.

“Lower Manhattan, where I worked for many years, was under water during Hurricane Sandy,” Didier said. “Richmond, Va., has water downtown whenever there’s high tide.

“The world will follow the U.S. but the U.S. is not taking any action because of political issues,” Didier said. “Big business contributes to the problem in a big way and they don’t want to spend the money,” to lessen their environmental impacts.

“We’re just trying to come up with solutions,” Deninger said.

“Maybe the solution is we all wake up and go with alternative energy and grow food in our backyard. I don’t know. But if we have 200 million people thinking about the problem and how to solve it, that’s a lot of brains.”

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