Climate Change

Course description Climate Change
Year: 2014-2015
Catalog number: 8002EES01Y
Teacher(s):
  • Peter Houben
Language: English
Blackboard: Yes
EC: 5
Level: 200
Period: Semester 1, Block I
Hours of study: 35:00 hrs
  • No Elective choice
  • No Contractonderwijs
  • No Exchange
  • No Study Abroad
  • No Evening course
  • No A la Carte
  • No Honours Class

Tags

[Bsc], EES, S, GC

Admission requirements

  • Classes of 2013-2016: Academic Writing, Designing Academic Inquiry, Global Challenges: Environmental Change, Global Challenges: Earth.

Course description

Climate change represents one of the most pressing issues currently facing human societies. This course introduces students to the key scientific issues that surround the climate change debate, the spatial patterns of both physical and human dimensions of climate change, and touches on a wider social and political context as this has important bearings upon both the scientific debate, policy responses and options to master the challenges of climate change. Topics covered in this course will be:

  • The climate system, world climate, and climatic characteristics
  • Main factors contributing to natural climate change, methods of climate reconstruction for geologic (106) and Quaternary timescales (103 years)
  • Climate change over the past 11000 years: sources of evidence, impact on human civilizations, feedbacks
  • Just a hoax? Causes (anthropogenic forcings of the climate system), evidence, projections of recent climate change
  • Projected impact of climate change on the environment and human societies (weather extremes, biodiversity and biome distribution, land use, agriculture, water and food security in select world regions)
  • Ethics and climate change: economic costs, mitigation and adaptation, and: who should pay the bill?

Weekly overview

Week 1 Course Overview, the climate system
Week 2 Past climate change
Week 3 Modern anthropogenic forcing of the climate system
Week 4 Projected climate change impacts on the environment
Week 5 Climate change impacts on socio-economic systems (and health)
Week 6 Mitigation, adaptation, solutions: Local and regional mitigation and adaptation strategies
Week 7 Climate science goes politics; Potential human and policy responses, ethical perspectives, solutions
Week 8 Reading Week – Final exam

Learning objectives

Students will learn what is driving climate change across a range of temporal and spatial scales, and how drivers of climate change interact with other earth cycles and human societies. Students develop knowledge and understanding of

  • the interconnectedness of and feedbacks between the main controls of climate change, environmental earth processes and the human system,
  • the evidence for changes in key elements of the climate system,
  • the long-term perspective on natural climate change, and what role paleoclimate research plays to understand current issues of climate change,
  • projected impacts of climate change on the environment and human societies,
  • ethical and political issues associated with climate change, the role of the media and interest groups, and the struggle for solutions.

Furthermore, by focusing on evaluating scientific journal articles students develop skills and competence in the critically evaluating data, scientific arguments, and arguments brought up by different political and economic interest groups practiced giving a insightful presentation.

Mode of instruction

This course will center on reading and discussing scientific articles and select sources to further the understanding of the past to recent history, drivers and effects as well as projections of future climate change. Each week the group will read one or two papers or chapters and discuss its contents. Monday sessions will introduce a facet of the climate change debate by means of lecturing and/or in-class discussions. Thursday sessions will be dedicated to a more in-depth discussion of a topic.

Depending on the number of students, each or paired students will delve into a topic of interest by means of editing a review paper (2500 words, 4000 words if pairing) that is related to climate change. Students will be responsible for identifying and reading thoroughly, at least 6 to 10 scientific papers dealing with the selected topic. Each paper shall be based on an annotated bibliography (one or two paragraphs long per paper/source). The review paper is due in Week 4 and basic to in-class presentation followed by a structured discussion led by students (starting from Week 4).

Assessment

Assessment 1: In-class participation
Learning aim: Interactive engagement with course material
A point is for actively contributing, volunteering points about the readings, responding to questions by the instructor or classmates, group cooperation etc. during a session. A zero means that a student did not constructively engage with the course at all. There will be no credit penalty imposed on those who erroneously or incompletely answer or contribute. Participation points are accumulated over 14 sessions (Week 1 to Week 7 sessions including the field trip) to a maximum score of ‘14’ equalling 15% of the final course grade.

Weight: 15%

Assessment 2: Quizzes, class preparation
Learning aim: Individual engagement with course material
Reading assignments are basic to prepare course content. There will be two reading-based quizzes giving students the opportunity to demonstrate that they have read and understood the readings so that they can add to our course. A quiz comprises about five questions and will be graded. A quiz will be assessed satisfactory if questions are answered in a manner consistent with the course goals. The accumulated grades of the quizzes are worth 10% of the final grade.

Weight: 10%, deadline/dates: ongoing weeks 1-7

Assessment 3: Review paper
Learning aim: Understanding a specific facet of climate change
Assessing application of course content involves preparing a graded assignment on a particular climate change topic. The topic will be registered together with the due date (week 4) in the first session. All student assignments have to be posted on BB as course material. This assignment requires to conduct an extensive literature search and summarize key points of a topic of the climate change debate based on applying basic understanding of climatological processes and corresponding human responses. A student needs to evaluate at least 6-10 scientific sources that provide the basis for the review paper. The review paper shall be 2500 words long (4000 words if pairing) and equals 35% of the final grade.

Based on the paper, starting from Week 4 students give in-class presentations and lead group discussions of about 60 minutes in total. Late assignments incur loss of credit. Assignments that are submitted later than 23:59 on a due date will receive a 5% reduction of the grade for each day of delayed submission. That is, submitting this assignment two days after the submission deadline will result in a 10% reduction of the grade.

Note, all of these assignments have to be turned in on Monday in Week 4.

Weight: 30%, deadline: week 4

Assessment 4: Presentation and group discussion
Learning aim: Presentation and moderation skills

Weight: 15%, deadline: ongoing weeks 4, 5, 6, 7

Assessment 5: Final exam
Learning aim: Understanding of course content, synthesis and integration of hazard analysis concepts
There will be a graded final exam in Week 8 equalling 35% of the final grade. The exam draws upon course materials and contents.

Weight: 30%

Make-up assignments or make-up exam
At the discretion of the instructor, make-up assignments or a final make-up exam may be given if a student misses a deadline or exam because of extenuating circumstances, two or more final exams on the day of the final exam, or participation in a LUC-sponsored activity. In any case advance notice is required whenever reasonably possible. If a make-up exam is warranted, it may differ from the regular exam.

Compulsory textbook

There will be no required textbook for the course. Required readings will draw on material from various sources and posted on BB. Basic readings are the IPCC assessment reports (free downloads):

IPCC, 2013. Climate Change 2013 – The Physical Science Basis. IPCC Working Group I contribution to AR5. Stocker, T.F., Qin, D., Plattner, G.-K., Tignor, M., Allen, S. K., Boschung, J., Nauels, A., Xia, Y., Bex, V., Midgley, P.M. (eds.), Cambridge University Press, Cambridge (UK), in press. [http://www.climatechange2013.org/]

IPCC, 2014. Climate Change 2014: Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability. Part A: Global and Sectoral Aspects. Contribution of Working Group II to the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change [Field, C.B., V.R. Barros, D.J. Dokken, K.J. Mach, M.D. Mastrandrea, T.E. Bilir, M. Chatterjee, K.L. Ebi, Y.O. Estrada, R.C. Genova, B. Girma, E.S. Kissel, A.N. Levy, S. MacCracken, P.R. Mastrandrea, and L.L. White (eds.)]. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, United Kingdom and New York, NY, USA, XXX pp. [http://ipcc-wg2.gov/AR5/]

IPCC, 2014. Climate Change 2014: Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability. Part B: Regional Aspects. Contribution of Working Group II to the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change [Barros, V.R., C.B. Field, D.J. Dokken, M.D. Mastrandrea, K.J. Mach, T.E. Bilir, M. Chatterjee, K.L. Ebi, Y.O. Estrada, R.C. Genova, B. Girma, E.S. Kissel, A.N. Levy, S. MacCracken, P.R. Mastrandrea, and L.L. White (eds.)]. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, United Kingdom and New York, NY, USA, XXX pp. [http://ipcc-wg2.gov/AR5/]

IPCC, 2014. Climate Change 2014: Mitigation of Climate Change. Contribution of Working Group III to the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change [Edenhofer, O., R. Pichs-Madruga, Y. Sokona, E. Farahani, S. Kadner, K. Seyboth, A. Adler, I. Baum, S. Brunner, P. Eickemeier, B. Kriemann, J. Savolainen, S. Schlömer, C. von Stechow, T. Zwickel and J.C. Minx (eds.)]. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, United Kingdom and New York, NY, USA. [http://mitigation2014.org/]

Metz, B., 2010. Controlling Climate Change. CUP, Cambridge (UK).

European Environment Agency, 2012. Climate Change, impacts and vulnerability in Europe 2012. EEA Report 12/2012, Copenhagen, 300 pp.

Contact information

p.houben@luc.leidenuniv.nl

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