I am planning to teach a course by this title online using the Zoom platform. I have a half dozen or so expressions of interest, but I wanted to put the outline up and in a place that can be accessed easily so people could have a look at it and see if they are interested. If you want to tune it, either:
- send me email, or
- put your contact information in a comment below, or
- send send using the form on this page, or
- reach out to me via a public meeting spot at Zoom.
Once I have this material, I’ll probably do it again. I don’t have any notion of a minimum class size, but I cannot accommodate more than 99 with my Zoom account. (Don’t think there’s much danger of that.) This is, of course, not for any kind of course credit.
The course, based upon Professor David Archer’s book and online course, Global Warming: Understanding the Forecast, and Professor Archer still has available a Coursera version. That course has enrollments, deadlines, etc.
The idea of the course is to introduce sufficient amounts of climate science into a UU and activist context so participants might be able to (1) discriminate among policy choices intelligently, (2) converse intelligently about the hows and whys of climate change, including being able to parry denier or warmist rhetoric, and (3) appreciate the marvel and beauty of the Earth system, with joy and awe.
Here’s an outline, one which I am continuing to develop and tweak. I have begun developing slides according to this. I still need to check those interested in the first round, but, tentatively, I’m thinking of a kickoff some time in early June 2019.
1. 1.1 "Fun and Awe" 1.1 Continental shelf image, off Cape Cod. 1.1.1 Seamounts. 1.1.2 Hotspots. 1.1.3 Plate motion. 1.1.4 A need for a sense of temporal scale. 1.2 The Sverdrup as a unit of flow. 1.2.1 A need to be QUANTITATIVE 1.3 The "Gulf Stream", a part of the AMOC and its flow. 1.2 Why _this_ course. 1.2.1 Now, and especially now, y'can't be an advocate for climate action without understanding the science and the engineering of climate change 1.2.2 This course deals with the science. The engineering will need to be left to another day. 1.2.3 It's my judgment that many climate and environmental activists get the idea, however way they've gotten there, but they do not have the details. This handicaps them, both in being able to deal with the emotional implications, and in being able to respond with judgments about policy. 1.2.4 After all, the idea of a representative democracy is in part that the electorate gains some understanding of the problem at hand and expresses their take on policy choices based upon that understanding. 1.2.5 Climate and its science is too important to leave it to others to understand, taking it on authority. 1.2.6 I emphasize that, because if you want to go into Professor Archer's course, online, or delve deeper into Professor Pierrehumbert's course, I heartily encourage you to do so. You can verify these things for yourself, using your own calculations. That's how Science works, or should work. 1.3 The sources and origin 1.3.1 Prof David Archer, GLOBAL WARMING: UNDERSTANDING THE FORECAST 1.3.2 Prof Ray Pierrehumbert, PRINCIPLES OF PLANETARY CLIMATE (https://geosci.uchicago.edu/~rtp1/PrinciplesPlanetaryClimate/) 1.3.3 B.S., Physics, 1974 1.3.4 Courses in Geology and Geophysics, 1992-1994. 1.3.5 Personal study since, lectures, online coursework, etc. 1.4 Given talks before: https://bit.ly/2VIdGEE 1.5 This course will be revised and will be repeated. 1.6 I *like* the online format: Bigger reach, encouraging online community, fewer greenhouse gas emissions for travel. 1.7 Format and style is to circle around a few key ideas, diving deeper on each revisit. 1.7.1 Intended to reduce overload effect. 1.7 HOMEWORK FOR THIS SECTION: Why are you taking the course? What do you want to get from it? 1.8 There'll typically be some kind of Homework or Problem Set given at end of each section, due by the start of the next. The due date system is to give me a chance to look them over and comment. This communication and submission will be written and by email or attaching files. If you'd prefer some other submission mechanism in addition, let me know. 1.9 Technical difficulties with ZOOM: I can help a bit with any connection or setup problems, but Zoom has excellent help resources and an online chat. They also can, I believe, "look over your shoulder" on the ZOOM platform to see what might be the problem. I cannot. 3. A Simple Climate Model. 3.1 Why models? 3.2 We've already seen a simple climate model: The bare rock. 3.2.1 Models as analogies. 3.2.2 Models as verifiable stories. 3.3 Layer models of atmosphere. 3.3.1 Single layer, and energy balances. 3.3.2 Suppose there are two layers? 3.3.3 How about 4 layers? 8 layers? 3.3.4 Towards continuity 22.214.171.124 We'll eventually see why the atmosphere doesn't fall out the sky two sections from now. 3.3.5 Cross-sections, mean free paths, and how far a photon can travel. 3.4 Preparatory aside: On the variety of greenhouse gases. 3.5 HOMEWORK: 3.5.1 Maps as models. Is a map the real world? Can maps be useful? What might make a particular map more or less useful for a particular application or problem than others? 3.5.2 Planets as models. Mars' atmosphere is thin, even though the proportion of Carbon Dioxide it has by volume is higher. Venus' atmosphere is thick and the atmosphere is almost entirely Carbon Dioxide. If the they were placed at the Earth's distance from the Sun, if their atmospheres were transparent (*), and they were initialized at the same temperature, how would their temperatures change over time? [(*) Verbal clarification during lecture.] 3.5.3 How do you think physical laws regarding Blackbody Radiation were discovered? It was codified by the same Gustav Kirchhoff who gave us the laws of electric circuits which are named for him. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kirchhoff%27s_law_of_thermal_radiation) Check out an original: https://archive.org/details/elementarytreati00stewuoft/page/230 4. The Steady Atmosphere and the Historical Role of Natural Greenhouse Gases. 4.1 Where does CO2 come from and where it goes: A dead simple Carbon Cycle. 4.1.1 Respiration, in the most general sense, including decay and plants. 126.96.36.199 CH4 + 2O2 --> CO2 + 2H2O 4.1.2 Volcanos and seeps. 4.1.3 Important to understand these reservoirs and time scales because otherwise accounting gets done wrong. 4.2 Carbon Cycle balances and equilibration. 4.2.1 Sources of CO2. 4.2.2 Temporary sinks of CO2. 188.8.131.52 Water at surface, oceans to 1000 meters 184.108.40.206 Forests 220.127.116.11 People and their stuff 4.2.3 Long term sinks of CO2. 18.104.22.168 Forests (maybe) 22.214.171.124 Deep oceans 126.96.36.199 Calcium Carbonate in shells 188.8.131.52 Subducted tectonic plates 4.3 Time scales 4.4 Before people. 4.4.1 Ice ages. 4.4.2 Causation doesn't work well as an explanatory device for many coupled systems. It's not a sufficiently POWERFUL IDEA. 4.5 The occasional cosmic accident. 4.6 The occasional geologic disruption. 4.7 But weathering of rocks by tectonics is a big driver. As is the occasional redirection of major ocean flows. 4.7.1 Who knows about tectonics? 4.7.2 [Aside] 4.8 There's a lot We don't know: How did life develop in a world lit by a dim young Sun? 4.9 HOMEWORK: ... (to be provided) ... 5. Perturbations of a Steady Atmosphere. 5.1 Earth's temperature rises in proportion to the number of CO2 doublings. In other words, temperature is proportional to log(CO2 concentration). 5.1.1 Band saturation, pressure broadening, and pro-rata effects of warming. 5.1.2 Why CH4 is more potent a GHG than CO2, as long as it is stable. 5.2 The atmospheric lifetime of CO2 (Archer; Solomon) 5.3 Some implications and what people seem to get wrong a lot 5.3.1 Policy implications 5.3.2 "Energy intensity" is a meaningless measure for environmental policy 5.3.3 Presentation of why, at this point, the need for some kind of CLIMATE REPAIR seems inevitable 5.4 HOMEWORK: (Handout of problem data) Try to calculate for yourself the cost of reducing atmospheric CO2 by 100 ppm. 6. Structuring of the Atmosphere, Lapse Rate, and Energy Transfers by CO2 and Water. 6.1 Energy transfers among CO2 and other atmospheric species. 6.2 What is the lapse rate? 6.3 Lapse rate and the greenhouse effect. 6.4 Surface and atmospheric water. 6.4.1 Water as a greenhouse gas. 6.4.2 Water as a heat transfer pump. 6.4.3 Clausius-Clapeyron. 6.5 HOMEWORK: Consider having a warmer atmosphere and more water vapor aloft as a result of climate change. What might you think are some of the implications for weather? 7. Atmosphere, Oceans, and Land; Weather and Climate; Slow Response 7.1 General behavior of fluids on a spinning Earth (or any other spinning planet) 7.2 The Oceans. 7.2.1 Why oceans flow as currents 7.2.2 Circulation time . . . 8. Ice sheets. . . . 9. The Idea of a Feedback; Examples on Earth, Such as Albedo and Otherwise. 9.1 Remember white rocks and black rocks? . . . 10. Kinds of Carbon; Kinds of Oxygen; the Carbon Cycle. 10.1 Evidence for human tampering. 10.2 Carbon isotopes. 10.3 Oxygen isotopes 10.4 What plants do, and why. 10.5 What shellfish do and why. 10.6 Shellfish and tectonic cycles. 10.7 Carbon-14. 10.8 Fossil Carbon. 10.9 The Keeling Curves. 10.10 HOMEWORK: ...(to be provided)... 11. Perturbed Carbon Cycle, and our CO2 Legacy. 11.1 An aside about the Keeling Curve for CO2. 11.2 Long choices and our CO2 legacy . . . 12. Options for Avoiding Further Impacts: Mitigation and its Costs. . . . 13. How Bad Can Things Get? How Fast? Some Reasons for Optimism. . . . 14. Choices and Options if Things All Go Wrong. . . . 15. Personal Choices versus Collective Action. . . .
While the course will be based upon Professor Archer’s book and course, it will be less quantitative, less technical, and will touch more upon policy than his science course. However, there will be homework assigned, and I will comment upon these, even if saying I’ll “grade them” is a bit strong.
Sessions are anticipated to be an hour apiece, with 20 minutes or so for discussion and questions thereafter. All will be done on Zoom.us. Details on that will accompany an announcement. There is already a Zoom room for general discussions, although holding a meeting requires my participation.
Number of sessions per week and duration will depend upon the class and levels of interest regarding various parts. I estimate there will be at least 10 sessions, and at most 17.
- Section 1, “Overview and Why”.
- Section 2, “Heat, Light, Energy, Blackbody Radiation, and Atmospheric Transfers”.
- Section 5, “Perturbations of a Steady Atmosphere”.
- Section 8, “Ice Sheets”.
- Section 12, “Options for Avoiding Further Impacts: Mitigation and its Costs”.