Course Syllabus

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Class Schedule:

Week Topic Videos Assignment
    1 Introduction to climate research Lecture 1-3 Exercise 1, Davis, CA
    2 History of Earth's climate Lecture 4-7 Essay 1, Hometown
    3 Climate forcing factors Lecture 8-11 Exercise 2, Typical GCM
    4 GCMs & predictions Lecture 12-17 Essay 2, Your GCM
    5 Climate & biosphere Lecture 18-22 Exercise 3, Polar bears
    6 Mitigation Strategies: Transportation Lecture 23-27 Essay 3, Your species
    7 Electric power & other sectors Lecture 28-36 Exercise 4, Carbon footprint
    8 Economics of climate change Lecture 37-42 Essay 4, Reduce footprint
    9 Environmental law Lecture 43-46 Exercise 5, United States
   10 Culture & climate change Lecture 47-48 Essay 5, Your country

Learning Exercises:

These are designed to prepare you for writing the essay assignments. You should complete one learning exercise every other week.
  • Climate Trends: Examine temperature graphs for climate trends in Davis, CA.
  • How to Read a Scientific Article: Critically read and summarize a scientific article on a GCM.
  • Climate Change and Species: Discover how polar bears are affected by climate change.
  • Carbon Footprint: Calculate your contributions to GHG emissions.
  • Countries and Climate Change: Discover how the culture of the USA influences climate change actions.

Essay Assignments:

  • Climate Trends in Your Hometown: Create temperature graphs for your hometown using ground station and satellite sources. Discuss temperature trends and running averages.
  • Global Climate Model: Use the library to research a GCM and discuss that GCM including history, how it works, and why it is important.
  • Climate Change and Species: Choose a species and discuss how that species will respond to climate change.
  • Carbon Footprint: Reduce your GHG emissions by 50% for one day and discuss the experience including the costs and benefits of doing so.
  • Countries and Climate Change: Choose a country and discuss how the culture influences climate change actions.


Week Required Text Reading Optional Supplemental Reading
    1 Ch 1 - Intro to Climate Change Research The Discovery of Global Warming by Spencer Weart
Global Climate Change Research Explorer
    2 Ch 2 - History of Earth’s Climate What is Paleoclimatology? by US NOAA
Earth's Climatic History by Pidwirny
    3 Ch 3 - Causes of Climate Global Warming Facts and Our Future
Causes of Climate Change by US EPA
Encyclopedia of Earth: GH effect
    4 Ch 4 - World of Tomorrow: Computer Simulation Models Simple Models of Climate Change by Weart
GCMs by Weart
IPCC Chapter on GCMs
    5 Ch 5 - Plants & CO2
Ch 6 - Climate Change & Biosphere
Food Quality by Bloom
Encyclopedia of Earth: Biosphere, Ecosystem Disturbance, Species Shifts
    6 Ch 7 - Transportation IPCC Mitigation of Climate Change Report, Transportation
    7 Ch 8 - Electric Power
Ch 9 - Other Sectors
IPCC Mitigation of Climate Change Report, Energy Supply
IPCC Mitigation of Climate Change Report, Buildings
IPCC Mitigation of Climate Change Report, Industry
IPCC Mitigation of Climate Change Report, Agriculture, Forestry, and Other Land Use
    8 Ch 10 - Economics of Climate Change The Economics of Climate Change: A Primer by CBO
Requiem for Kyoto by Nordhaus & Boyer
    9 Ch 11 - Environmental Law United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change

Ch 12 - Culture & Climate Change Global Warming Politics by Shellenberger & Nordhaus
Welcome to Doomsday by Moyers

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