Teaching Assistants:

Zachary Zevitas
tel. 617-395-4204

Lectures - Wednesdays, 5:30-7:30 - 1 Story Street - Rm 306
Class Discussion Section - Rm. 306 - 4:30-5:30 Wednesdays (starting
30 January)
Class Schedule
Course Readings

Course Description:

     This introductory course will give students an integrated overview of the science of climate change and an analysis of the implications of this change for patterns of daily life in their own circumstance and around the world.

     Humankind is facing an unprecedented environmental crisis of global proportions. Scientists from across the world have issued stark warnings about the potential disruption and destabilization that changes in Earth’s climate will most likely cause in the near future for the life systems upon which modern civilization depends. The social and political implications of climate change have begun to become apparent as local communities in widely different parts of the world struggle to adapt to new patterns of excessive rainfall, prolonged droughts and severe weather events. Internationally, nation states have endeavored to forge diplomatic agreements to help humankind cope with both the causes and consequences of global climate change.

     This course has three principal objectives. First, it will introduce students to the science of climate change, drawing attention to the latest research and evolving pattern of scientific data that has emerged on climate in recent years. Second, emphasis will be given to analyzing the social changes and adaptations that human communities have already made and those they will most likely to have to make as the Earth’s climate continues to change in the coming years. Finally, specific attention will be given to the diplomatic efforts that have been launched since the creation of the Framework Convention on Climate Change (FCCC) during the first world-wide Earth Summit on the environment in Rio de Janeiro in June of 1992.

Particular attention will be devoted to addressing the question of how the human community is likely to behave after the COP-15 in Copenhagen, Denmark (2009), the COP-16 in Cancun, Mexico (2010), the COP-17 in Durban, South Africa (2011) and the concluded COP-18 in Dubai, Qatar. After 20 years of the of the UNFCCC, and we will look back upon the science, social impact and diplomacy that has surrounded climate issues over this last twenty years in order to clarify how the human community is now positioned to come to terms with Earth's evolving climate.

Operative Course Schedule
[Subject to periodic updates. Please consult each week.]

Week 1
30 January

Introduction & Overview
  Timothy Weiskel & William Moomaw
  Introduction & Overview of Course

Week 2
February 6

Al Gore

Healthy Planet, Healthy People: A Conversation with Al Gore

  Memorial Church - Harvard Yard

Week 3
February 13

Update on the Science of Climate

William Moomaw

The Social Context of Scientific Knowledge: "Knowledge, Belief and Behavior"

Timothy Weiskel


Virtual Office Hours
with Zach Zevitas
Click Here to Join on
Sunday, 17 February
3:00 - 5:00 pm ET/USA
[Recording of Session]
Some photos from simultaneous Washington, D.C.
climate rally, Courtesey of P. Weiskel

Week 4
February 20

The UNFCCC, the IPCC and the International Negotiation Process

William Moomaw


Week 5
February 27

Monitoring the Ongoing Literature - tips & techniques for research

  Dr. George Clark, Harvard Environmental Librarian

Week 6
March 6

International Climate Diplomacy


Timothy C. Weiskel

VoiceThread of Statement of Research Intent Due

Week 7
March 13

A Reflection on China, Energy Systems and Carbon Use Trends

  Chris P. Nielsen

Spring Break

Prospectus Due

Review for Last Year's Mid-Term
+ Slides for Review
Review on
24 March 201
53 Church Street, L01
1:00 to 3:00pm

Week 8
March 27

Midterm Exam

The Pace and Scope of Change :
  Timothy C. Weiskel

Week 9
April 3

The Environmental Impact of Climate Change: Local & Global Water Issues

Dr. Paul Kirshen



Week 10
April 10

Climate Change and Environmental Justice

Timothy C. Weiskel



Week 11
April 17

Climate Change and The Polar Regions
  Dr. James J. McCarthy

Virtual "Office Hours" with Zach Zevitas - 1:00-3:00pm, Sunday, 21 April
click here to connect to recording.

Week 12
April 24

Climate Adaptation & Mitigation

William Moomaw


Final VoiceThread Due - Link to be placed in "Dropbox" - See Calendar - by Midnight on Tuesday, 30 April / 1May 2013.

Week 13

Social Impact of Climate Change - A Personal Story and Example
  William & Margot Moomaw - Living Deliberately in the 21st Century

Week 14
May 8

Covering the Global Climate in the Press

William Blakemore, ABC News



** All Course Papers Due **
Please note: In preparing your final paper should consult and follow suggestions in the
Research Paper Formatting Checklist
If you want an example of what is expected, you may wish to consult a sample student paper from a previous year...


Review Session for
Final Hour Exam

Week 15
May 15
Final Hour Exam - 1 hour allotted
Summation & Farewell: Where can we go from here?
  William Moomaw & Timothy Weiskel

Spring Semester 2012

Course Requirements

Requirements for the course include completing

1) A Statement of Research Intent - Due 27 February 2013 (written statement, 1 March 2013 (VoiceThread link).(Approximately 10% of the final grade.)

2) a mid-term examination - Wednesday, 27 March 2013 - [ Distance learning students should consult the procedures on "Exams in Absentia" in the Extension School catalogue. You are responsible for identifying an appropriate Proctor, completing the online proctored examination form and making arrangements for the administration of the examination at a distance.] (This exam counts for approximately 20% of the final grade):

3) a final exercise - Wednesday, 15 May 2013 – (to count approximately 10% of the final grade);

4) class participation - (including classroom participation, where possible AND completion of all online class assignments, quizzes, etc)


5) A Prospectus & Final Research Term Paper - to be submitted in writing, on or before Wednesday, 20 March 2013 and Wednesday, 8 May 2013, respectively . [That is, a brief prospectus for this paper must have been submitted by Wednesday, 13 March 2013, while the term paper itself is due on Wednesday, 8 May 2013]. The Prospectus and the Research Term Paper will together account for approximately 60% of the final grade.

Further guidelines on the Midterm Exam, Final Exercise, Prospectus and Research Term Paper will be given in class and posted online when appropriate. But Nota Bene: Distance Learners who will not be taking the "Final Exercise" in class are required to make arrangements for a Proctor. Instructions for "Proctored Examinations" are available in the Extension School Catalogue, and you must complete an online proctored examination form for this Final Exercise -- just as in the case of the mid-term.

N.B. The final grade for the course will be assessed on approximately the following basis:

1) Statement of Research Intent - Approximately 10% of final grade.
2) Mid-term examination - Approximately 20% of the final grade
3) Final hour exam exercise - Approximately 10% of the final grade
4) Prospectus - Approximately 15% of the final grade
5) Voice Thread Presentation - Approximately 10% of final grade
6) Term Paper - Approximately 35% of the final grade

In preparing your final paper should consult and follow suggestions in the
Research Paper Formatting Checklist
If you want an example of what is expected, you may wish to consult
a sample student paper from a previous year...

Assigned Reading for the Course are drawn from:

Spencer Weart
The Discovery of Global Warming (Cambridge, Harvard University Press, 2003) [with support material.]
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, (IPCC)
  2001 Climate Change 2001: Working Group II: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, (IPCC, 2001).
  2007 Climate Change 2007: The Physical Science Basis: Summary for Policymakers [Contribution of Working Group I to the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (This Summary for Policymakers was formally approved at the 10th Session of Working Group I of the IPCC, Paris, February 2007.)], (Geneva, Switzerland, IPCC, 2 February 2007).
  2007 Climate Change Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability: Summary for Policymakers: Working Group II Contribution to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Fourth Assessment Report Climate Change 2007 [ IPCC WGII Fourth Assessment Report ], (Geneva, Switzerland, Brussles, Belgium, 6 April 2006).
  2007 IPCC Fourth Assessment Report, Working Group III - Summary for Policymakers, (Bangkok, Thailand, 4 May 2007).
  2007 IIntergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Fourth Assessment Report—Climate Change 2007: Synthesis Report— Summary for Policymakers. UNFCCC. (17 November 2007)
National Assessment Synthesis
  2000 Climate Change Impacts on the United States The Potential Consequences of
Climate Variability and Change: Overview Report
(U.S. Global Change Research Program, 2000)
 Shaw, Jonathan
"The Great Global Experiment," Harvard Magazine.(November-December 2002) [or the HTML version ]
Elizabeth Kolbert
Field Notes from a Catastrophe (New York, Bloomsbury USA, 2006).
James Hoggan
  2009 Climate Cover-Up: The Crusade to Deny Global Warming ( N.Y., Greystone Books, 2009).
James Lovelock
  2010 The Vanishing Face of Gaia: A Final Warning (N.Y., Basic Books, 2010).
Eugene Linden
The Winds of Change: Climate, Weather, and the Destruction of Civilizations (New York, Simon Schuster, 2007)
Joe Romm
Hell and High Water: The Global Warming Solution (New York, Harper Perennial, 2008)
Worldwatch Institute
  2009  State of the World 2009: Into a Warming World (New York, Norton, 2009)
Worldwatch Institute
  2011  State of the World 2011: Innovations that Nourish the Planet (New York, Norton, 2011)

Tony Blair (Foreword), Hans Joachim Schellnhuber (Editor), Wolfgang Cramer (Editor), Nebojsa Nakicenovic (Editor), Tom Wigley (Editor), Gary Yohe (Editor), Rajendra Pachauri (Introduction)
  2006 Avoiding Dangerous Climate Change (Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2006).
[PDF version]
Lester Brown
  2011  World on the Edge: How to Prevent Environmental and Economic Collapse (New York, Norton, 2011).

The Unassigned, Required Reading, Listening &/or Viewing
The New York Times
The Harvard Gazette
Google Earth
BBC News

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