Climate science and its implications for climate change and global warming are enmeshed in a heated public argument in America in 2017. That argument runs the gamut from attacks on the detailed predictions of climate models to contentious debate about the general role of science in setting public policy.
Our course will focus primarily on climate science per se but will also touch on some of the consequences of our current understanding of the Earth’s climate: past, present, and future. We will discuss the basics of the Earth’s climate system, including the principal controls on its evolution over time (sunlight, the Earth’s orbit, and the carbon cycle). We will examine climate modeling and the factors which either support or weaken its role in forecasting. We will investigate the effects of climate change on both natural and human systems and evaluate data that shows these impacts. Finally, we will look at some of the possibilities available for mitigating the effects of climate change and opportunities to reduce our carbon footprint on Earth.