The Global Warming Debate (Geography 332)

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Course Description

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"Most of the observed increase in globally averaged temperatures since the mid-20th century is very likely [>90% likely] due to the observed increase in anthropogenic greenhouse gas concentrations." - Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Summary for Policymakers, 2007

"Could it be that global warming is the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American People?" – Senator James Inhofe, Aug. 28 Senate Speech, 2003

"Let me summarize our position: climate change is a serious issue, and the risks warrant action." -- Kenneth Cohen, VP Public Affairs, ExxonMobil Corp. Letter to Newsweek, Sept. 3, 2007

The central thesis of this class is that as our understanding of the climate system improves, the debate over global warming is slowly shifting from questions of detection and attribution (whether warming is occurring and whether we’re responsible?) to questions of impact and response (what are the consequences and what should we do?). The first half of this class will review the fundamentals of climate-change science, and the evidence for 1) a warming earth and 2) human causation. The second half will explore 1) the possible impacts, risks, and benefits associated with climate change, and 2) adaptation and mitigation strategies. This course will draw heavily on the recent findings from the 2007 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report and will consist of a mixture of lectures, in-class discussions, and self-directed exploration of on-line and published resources.

This public website provides a copy of the course syllabus and external links... students taking this course can access additional resources through Learn@UW.

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