Published: Feb. 17, 2016

When Peter Blanken flew to Paris for the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference in December, he had somewhat low expectations. “Going into it, I felt pessimistic,” says Blanken, associate professor of geography at the University of Colorado Boulder, who was one of 10 official observers selected by the Association of American Geographers.

And who could fault his pessimism? Global atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide surpassed 400 parts per million for the first time in 800,000 years in 2015, while experts were warning a decade ago that 350 ppm might be a point of no return. In the United States, widespread skepticism about climate change persists despite an overwhelming scientific consensus that human activity is causing a steady rise in global mean temperatures.

Read article in Colorado Arts & Sciences Magazine