Global Climate Change

Course Number: G 184
Transcript Title: Global Climate Change
Created: June 11, 2020
Updated: June 15, 2020
Total Credits: 4
Lecture Hours: 33
Lecture / Lab Hours: 33
Lab Hours: 0
Satisfies Cultural Literacy requirement: No
Satisfies General Education requirement: Yes
Grading options: A-F (default), P-NP, audit
Repeats available for credit: 0

Prerequisites

MTH 20 or equivalent placement test scores. Prerequisite/concurrent: WR 121.

Course Description

Explores the various aspects of the Earth’s climate system. Includes the interactions between the atmosphere, hydrosphere, biosphere, cryosphere and lithosphere as well as how the climate system has varied over time (past present and future) and efforts to mitigate and adapt to these changes. Includes weekly lab. Prerequisite: MTH 20 or equivalent placement test scores. Prerequisite/concurrent WR 121. Audit available. 

Intended Outcomes

Upon successful completion of this course, students will be able to:

  1. Explain past, present and future climate patterns using an Earth systems approach (Earth Systems include the atmosphere, hydrosphere, biosphere, cryosphere and lithosphere).
  2. Describe the various human and non-human climate system forcings, the climate systems reaction to those forcings, as well as climate feedback mechanisms.
  3. Collect and interpret real climate data and information using field, lab and web based observations. Use scientific reasoning to compare and contrast these observations with current models of the climate system.
  4. Use an understanding of climate science to effectively communicate about climate change, its impacts and potential responses.
  5. Identify and analyze the local and global impacts and associated hazards of climate change as they relate to the environment and society: evaluate societal response to these impacts and hazards.
  6. Evaluate the human and individual role in the climate system, identifying areas of personal responsibility as well as ways to mitigate and adapt to future climate patterns.

Alignment with Institutional Core Learning Outcomes

Major 1. Communicate effectively using appropriate reading, writing, listening, and speaking skills. (Communication)

Major

2. Creatively solve problems by using relevant methods of research, personal reflection, reasoning, and evaluation of information. (Critical thinking and Problem-Solving)

Major

3. Extract, interpret, evaluate, communicate, and apply quantitative information and methods to solve problems, evaluate claims, and support decisions in their academic, professional and private lives. (Quantitative Literacy)

Minor

4. Use an understanding of cultural differences to constructively address issues that arise in the workplace and community. (Cultural Awareness)

Major

5. Recognize the consequences of human activity upon our social and natural world. (Community and Environmental Responsibility)

To establish an intentional learning environment, Core Learning Outcomes (CLOs) require a clear definition of instructional strategies, evidence of recurrent instruction, and employment of several assessment modes.

Major Designation

  1. The outcome is addressed recurrently in the curriculum, regularly enough to establish a thorough understanding.
  2. Students can demonstrate and are assessed on a thorough understanding of the outcome.
    • The course includes at least one assignment that can be assessed by applying the appropriate CLO rubric.

Minor Designation

  1. The outcome is addressed adequately in the curriculum, establishing fundamental understanding.
  2. Students can demonstrate and are assessed on a fundamental understanding of the outcome.
    • The course includes at least one assignment that can be assessed by applying the appropriate CLO rubric.

Outcome Assessment Strategies

At the beginning of the course, the instructor will detail the methods used to evaluate student progress and the criteria for assigning a course grade. Methods may include: exams, quizzes, homework assignments, research papers, oral presentations, small group work, required weekly lab assignments, field trips, etc.

Texts and Materials

Suggested materials:

  • Yearly IPCC report (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change: https://www.ipcc.ch)
  • Most recent Oregon Climate Assessment Report (http://www.occri.net/publications-and-reports/fourth-oregon-climate-assessmentreport-2019/)

Textbook suggestions: 

  • Mathez, Edmond A. (2018). Climate Change: The Science of Global Warming and our Energy Future. 2nd Edition. New York, NY: Columbia University Press. ISBN: 9780231172837
  • Kolbert, Elizabeth, (2014). The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History. New York, NY: Henry Holt and Company. ISBN: 9780805092998 

Course Activities and Design

The determination of teaching strategies used in the delivery of outcomes is generally left to the discretion of the instructor. Here are some strategies that you might consider when designing your course: lecture, small group/forum discussion, flipped classroom, dyads, oral presentation, role play, simulation scenarios, group projects, service learning projects, hands-on lab, peer review/workshops, cooperative learning (jigsaw, fishbowl), inquiry based instruction, differentiated instruction (learning centers), graphic organizers, etc.

Course Content (Themes, Concepts, Issues and Skills)

Outcome #1: Explain past, present and future climate patterns using an Earth systems approach (Earth Systems include the atmosphere, hydrosphere, biosphere, cryosphere and lithosphere).
  • Discuss the nature and history of climate science
  • Basic overview of the atmosphere, lithosphere, Carbon Cycle, oceans, energy and the Earth System, nutrient cycles, etc.
Outcome #2: Describe the various human and non-human climate system forcings, the climate systems reaction to those forcings, as well as climate feedback mechanisms.
  • Discuss Feedback loops, the carbon cycle, albedo and ice coverage, permafrost, human influence, etc.
    • Human influence: CO2 emissions through fossil fuel combustion for power and transportation, food production, land use changes (deforestation/farming/urban use), etc. This leads to ocean acidity, rising temps, glacial melt, sea level rise, permafrost melting, etc. 
    • Non-human Influence: The carbon cycle - Seasonal CO2 flux due to forests and decomposition, volcanoes, rock formation, marine systems, erosion, etc.
    • Feedback loops – negative and positive (positive example: increased Green House Gas levels cause increased temperatures which cause permafrost to melt which releases more Green House Gasses which causes temperatures to rise, etc.)
Outcome #3: Collect and interpret real climate data and information using field, lab and web based observations. Use scientific reasoning to compare and contrast these observations with current models of the climate system
  • Introduce and explain how climate models work, where and how data is collected, where to get data, etc. 
  • Discuss and practice scientific reasoning through interpreting data together as a class and discussing the interpretation of the data as well as what the overall implications of results are– could be practiced in small group discussions and labs.
  • Practice collecting, graphing and interpreting data in labs, projects, in-class activities, etc.
  • Discuss past climate patterns, scales as well as current patterns and future possibilities.
Outcome #4: Use an understanding of climate science to effectively communicate about climate change, its impacts and potential responses.
  • Students will have gained the understanding of climate science through outcomes 1, 2, and 3 and related content.
  • Examples of effective communication given in lecture, videos, guest lectures. Student practice in labs, discussions, presentations, etc.
  • Discuss the role of ‘climate denial’ in our response to climate change including how data is manipulated and cherry picked to suit opinions. 
Outcome #5: Identify and analyze the local and global impacts and associated hazards of climate change as they relate to the environment and society: evaluate societal response to these impacts and hazards. 
  • Discuss global climate zones and characteristics and controls of these zones. 
  • Discuss global impacts of climate change: sea level rise, changing and extreme weather patterns, ocean acidity, sea ice and glacier coverage, droughts, wildfires, heat waves, flooding, etc. 
  • Discuss specific impacts to the PNW of climate change 
  • Discuss mitigation techniques, geoengineering, adaptation, etc.
Outcome #6: Evaluate the human and individual role in the climate system, identifying areas of personal responsibility as well as ways to mitigate and adapt to future climate patterns.
  • Discuss mitigation vs. adaptation, local and global policies, what the UNFCCC is and its history, carbon footprints, geoengineering and energy basics (oil, gas, renewables, etc.), personal actions that can be taken to make change, etc.

Other related topics as desired by the instructor. 

Department Notes

Columbia Gorge Community College Science Department stands by the following statement about regarding science instruction:

Science is a fundamentally nondogmatic and self-correcting investigatory process. Theories (such as biological evolution and geologic time scale) are developed through scientific investigation are not decided in advance. As such, scientific theories can be and often are modified and revised through observation and experimentation. “Creation science", “Intelligent design” or similar beliefs are not considered legitimate science, but a form of religious advocacy. This position is established by legal precedence (Webster v. New Lenox School District #122, 917 F. 2d 1004).

The Science Department at Columbia Gorge Community College therefore stands with organizations such as the National Association of Biology Teachers in opposing the inclusion of pseudo-sciences in our science curricula except to reference and/or clarify its invalidity.