BIOL-368 Global Climate Change
Spring for 2016-2017
Over the past century, the mean surface temperature of our planet has increased slightly less than 1°C. While this may seem like a small increment, global warming is already profoundly affecting Earth’s organisms and ecological communities, and predictions for the impacts of continued change range from severe to catastrophic. In this class, we will explore the causes and biological consequences of climate change on Earth. Through lectures, discussion, films, critical reading of the literature, and examination of long-term data sets and resources from NASA’s Earth Observatory, students will gain an understanding of: how Earth’s climate system functions, how past climatic fluctuations compare to projected future changes, how human activities contribute to climate change, how climate change affects organisms, communities, and ecosystems, and how science is (or is not) translated into policy. Additionally, we will explore the direct effects of climate change on disease risk and resource shortage for the human population, as well as the possible economic impacts of such changes. Lastly, we will consider what changes would need to occur to stabilize or reverse current trends. We welcome lively discussion and debate that will further our understanding of the impacts of climate change on Earth’s living resources.
Prerequisites: Biol-104/114 or permission of instructor
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