David S Battisti
H A&S 221
Evolution of an idea or concept central to the natural sciences. Intended for non-science majors. Content varies from year to year. For university honors students only. Offered: W.
Human-induced climate change - popularly known as "global warming" - is emerging as one of the great challenges facing society in the 21st century. If we ignore the problem, by the end of this century the climate changes due to increased greenhouse gases will be large enough to have significant consequences on the environment and on civilization. To avoid these changes will require either (i) a wholesale change in the sources of energy used by humans, (ii) yet to be developed (economical) methods to sequester carbon on an unprecedented scale, or (iii) intentional human modification of the earth’s energy budget to partially cancel the warming that will result from the increase in greenhouse gases due to human activity (so-called geoengineering solutions to global warming). At stake are deeply-felt values as well as entrenched economic interests. When these are combined with scientific uncertainty, it is not surprising that global warming has sparked a raging, often passionate debate. The primary goal of this course is to understand the basic science of global warming and its consequences to date. We will then examine how the climate is projected to change over the present century due to further human activity, and some of the impacts these changes will have on ecosystems and people, especially on the global water and food supplies. The lectures will a summary of the basic science, the scientific consensus on global warming, and highlight the major sources of uncertainty in the projections of future climate. We will also examine stronger claims made by advocates on both sides - "skeptics" and "alarmists," as they are sometimes called.
The first half of the class will primarily consist of lectures on the science, with some student-led discussions. The second half of the class will examine the impacts of global warming on food production, water resources, ecology and biodiversity. We will also explore the options for avoiding future warming (mitigation) and what it will mean for global energy usage, economic development, and policy. This portion of the class will be an equal mix of lectures and discussion.
Student learning goals
General method of instruction
Lectures Student Led Discussions
Purchase the two required books at the University Bookstore: Robert Hansen: The Rough Guide to Climate Change second edition 978-1-85828-105-6 David Archer: Global Warming: Understanding the Forecast: # ISBN-10: 1405140399 # ISBN-13: 978-1405140393
Class assignments and grading
Homeworkds, Critiques on Assigned Readings Midterm Term Paper Evaluation There will be several problem sets in the first half of the course. There will be numerous reading assignments throughout the course that you will summarize in short, written critiques. There will be a midterm examine that concerns the essence of the climate science and a research project on a topic of your choice (e.g., the impact of climate change on some country that you are interested in) that will be summarized in a term paper at the end of the quarter.