Climate Change and Global Warming: Facts and Fiction

We are failing to effectively control the rapid changes in Earth’s environment. This course will examine our understanding of climate change science and discuss the data that reveals the reality of and urgency of our current situation. Scientists around the world are focused on how to reduce the causes and impacts of climate change.  We must begin to answer the question: “What can we do to avoid the effects of a runaway greenhouse and how we can best protect life on this living planet?”  Our goals for this course are to improve our understanding of climate change to enable us to encourage leaders in government and businesses to better protect our environment, while challenging each of us to do our part to reduce our individual impacts on Earth’s environment. 

October 26: Climate Change and Global Warming Basics: What Does Science Tell Us? This session will review the main causes of global warming and climate change. Release of greenhouse gases, primarily carbon dioxide, is the chief cause of our recent changes in climate over the past 40 years.  Discussions concerning the global carbon cycle will emphasize the sources of anthropogenic greenhouse gases to the atmosphere as well as the natural environmental processes that are removing some greenhouse gases from the atmosphere. Environmental data will be examined showing how scientists resolve the effects of human-induced global warming from natural variations in Earth’s climate.  Presenter: Dave DeMaster; M.S., Ph.D., Marine Geochemistry, Yale; Professor Emeritus, Dept. of Marine, Earth and Atmospheric Sciences (MEAS), NC State.

November 2: Atmospheric Processes That Impact Our Future Climate. Atmospheric green-house gases from internal combustion engines and power generators, combined with effects of fracking/mining and distribution operations, are changing Earth’s temperature because of changes in optical properties of our atmosphere. Dynamical processes that govern the distribution of gases and aerosols in the lower atmosphere are also causing changes in our climate. We are seeing the global warming effects from our industrialized planet that are gradually adding gases that trap additional heat in our atmosphere. Presenter: Russell Philbrick; M.S. and Ph.D., Physics, NC State; Res. Prof. Physics and MEAS, NC State; Emeritus Prof., Penn State; USAF, Retired.

November 9:  The Future Climate of North Carolina – Uncharted Waters.  The ongoing increases in atmospheric greenhouse gasses, if allowed to continue along the present trajectory, will change the climate of North Carolina in profound ways. Our scientific knowledge of the climate system provides a firm basis for reliably projecting certain climate changes. The foundations of this knowledge include observed recent climate changes, our understanding of the basic physics of the atmosphere, and experiments using complex and sophisticated computer models of the climate system. This knowledge underlies the content of the recently released NC Climate Science Report. The virtual inevitability of some of these changes should spur immediate actions to protect the state’s citizens. Presenter: Kenneth Kunkel; M.S., Ph.D., Univ. of Wisconsin-Madison; Professor, Dept. MEAS, NC State.

November 16:  A Geologic Time Perspective of Climate Change and Global Warming What do we know about how climate has varied over thousands to millions of years of Earth's history and how do we know it? How do climate changes in the past compare to those we anticipate in the future? Presenter:  Lonnie Leithold; M.S., Ph.D., Geology, Univ. of Washington, Professor, Dept. of MEAS, NC State.

November 30:  A Marine Perspective of Climate Change and Global Warming.  We will explore the nature of climate change as it impacts oceanic processes such as sea-ice formation, global ocean circulation, ocean acidification, coral reef die offs, and sea level rise.  Have there been natural changes in ocean circulation that have caused significant variations in Earth’s climate?  Yes, there have – come and see what they are. Presenter:  Dave DeMaster, Ph.D. 

December 7:  International Climate Agreements:  What Can We Do as Individuals?  We will discuss the successes and failures of the two main international climate agreements: the Kyoto Protocol of 2005 and the Paris Agreement of 2015.  Why was it so important for the U.S. to rejoin the Paris Agreement on the first day of Biden’s presidency?  Class members will be asked to name ways that they individually are trying to reduce the causes and impacts of global warming, which will be shared with the class and discussed from a scientific perspective.  Presenter:  Dave DeMaster, Ph.D. 

Registration deadline: Oct. 24


Name Session Dates Location Format Registration Dates
Climate Change and Global Warming: Facts and Fiction10/26/21 - 12/07/21McKimmon CenterClassroom08/16/21 - 10/25/21  REGISTER NOW