Understanding how these systems interact to sustain life on earth is critical if human society is going to use our resources wisely and inhabit the planet in a long-term sustainable way. Earth’s climate changes in response to shifts in response to many mechanisms. Changes in earth’s orbit, the amount of ice on the planet, the amount of particulate matter in the atmosphere, and the composition of gasses in the atmosphere all influence climate. Humans have been changing the composition of the atmosphere by burning fossil fuels (coal, oil, and natural gas) thereby increasing the concentration of carbon dioxide (CO2). Carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas, which means it traps heat and keeps the atmosphere warm. Increasing concentrations of CO2 trap more heat and cause global temperatures to rise. In this section of the course we will consider the natural and human-caused sources of climate change and compare recent warming to climatic changed that have occurred in the geologic past. Read the assigned chapter of the textbook (available for free at Opengeology.org/textbook) and watch the supplemental videos before completing the assignments and discussions. This week’s readings and videos focus on human-caused global climate change. Chapter 15 in your textbook is the main reading for this week and covers global climate change. Textbook Readings • An Introduction to Geology: chapter 15 https://opengeology.org/textbook/15-global-climate-change/
Videos The following video is a supplement to the textbook chapter. It explains the scientific evidence for human-caused climate change (6:50 min. in length, CC available): You should also watch the following video from the outstanding climate change video series Global Weirding. This video addresses the difference between weather and climate (8:03 min. in length, CC available): To understand the impacts of anthropogenic climate change you should watch one of the following videos from the same series. These videos discuss the impacts of climate change in different regions of North America: • • • • • •
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