Wicked Problems. Global Climate Change. Central Case: Rising seas may flood the Maldives. Central Case: Rising seas may flood the Maldives. Central Case: Rising seas may flood the Maldives. Our dynamic climate. Climate : an area’s long-term atmospheric conditions
Global Climate Change
The Sun’s Energy Warms the Earth
snow and ice + the earth’s surface (20%)
atmospheric dust (6%)
Oceans + Land (51%)
Plant photosynthesis (<1%)
Radiated to space from clouds and atmosphere (64%)
Radiated directly to space from Earth (6%)
Temperature Change (oF)
Thousands of Years Before Present
Atmospheric CO2 (ppm)
Temperature Change (oF)
Changes in Mean Sea Level
Comparison between 1979 & 2005
Sea Ice Extent (million km2)
10-year running average
Named Tropical Storms
Dec 3, 2013
Red - Strong El Nino
Blue- Strong La Nina
Black – moderate (either)
The IPCC 2013 report concluded that it is more than 95% likely that most global warming is due to humans.
The typical automobile is highly inefficient.
UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (FCCC): outlines a plan for reducing greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by the year 2000 through a voluntary, nation-by-nation approach
By the late 1990s, it was clear that the voluntary approach would not succeed.
Most developed nations did not voluntarily cut emissions.
The Kyoto Protocol mandates that, between 2008-2012, signatory nations must reduce emissions of six greenhouse gases to levels below those of 1990.
This treaty took effect in 2005, after Russia became the 127th nation to ratify it.
The United States will not ratify the Kyoto Protocol.
It requires industrialized nations to reduce emissions, but not rapidly industrializing nations (China and India).
Permit trading programs
Harness the economic efficiency of the free market to achieve policy goals while allowing businesses flexibility
Polluters choose how to best reduce their emissions
A cap and trade emissions trading program
Each state decides who needs to participate.
Each sets a cap on allowable carbon emissions.
Each emissions source gets one permit.
The source can buy or sell permits.
Any source emitting more than its permitted amount will face penalties.
Emissions trading programs allow participants to buy carbon offsets.
Carbon offset: a voluntary payment to enable another entity to reduce emissions that one is unable to reduce oneself
1 flight = 2,268 CO2
6 trees/passenger = 1 round trip flight
The most influential factor may be the collective decisions of millions of people.
Our carbon footprint expresses the amount of carbon we are responsible for emitting.
Ave. N.A. citizen
Rearing a child (carbon consciously)
Ave. UK citizen
Rearing a child (carbon high)
Ave. world citizen
Rearing a child.
“Global warming” is defined as:
“Global warming potential,” when referring to greenhouse gases, means:
Which of the following are major contributors of global warming?
Which of the following greenhouse gases is not the most potent, but is extremely abundant?
What would happen if the NADW (North American Deep Water) conveyor belt were disrupted?
A “proxy indicator” for global warming is:
The 2007 Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change made it clear that:
One result of climate change is that sea surfaces will rise, which means that:
What happens as ice melts in polar regions?
Which statement is supported by this figure?