Climate Change and Human Societies 

Note:  Adobe pdf documents will be available on the STEM-IPY website only for the duration of this workshop. 


1.    Public Attitudes about Climate Change

What do our students, their parents, our neighbors, etc. know about the Earth’s climate system and climate change?  Where are the gaps in our knowledge?  These articles explore the idea of climate literacy and look at how Americans view climate change science.

Climate Literacy: The Essential Principles of Climate Sciences (same as booklet) http://www.climatescience.gov/Library/Literacy/

Malka, A., and others 2009.  The Association of Knowledge with Concern About Global Warming: Trusted Information Sources Shape Public Thinking.  Risk Analysis vol. 29(5): 633-647. . (see pdf)

Pew Research Center, survey summary: Fewer Americans See Solid Evidence of Global Warming

A powerpoint by L.M. Christian explaining the above survey:  The Public’s Views on Global Warming: Trends from the Past Year

Climate Change in the American Mind by Anthony Leiserowitz (also a powerpoint)

American University, School of Communications, survey summary:  The Climate Change Generation  (see pdf)

Psychology of climate change communication: 

News Article: http://environmentalresearchweb.org/cws/article/opinion/40940

           The full guide (quite long—skim or prioritize sections to read):  http://www.cred.columbia.edu/guide/


2.    Sea Level Rise

Rising sea level will not only impact coastal communities by increasing their exposure to storms resulting in property loss, FEMA costs, insurance structures etc., but will also result in millions of eco-refugees displaced from low lying areas.  This topic explores why sea level is rising, the best estimates for rate and also the reality check of the toll this will take on all of us and local and economies. 


Long, Antony, J., 2009, Back to the future: Greenland’s contribution to sea-level change, GSA Today, June, v. 19(6) 4-10.  (see pdf)

Kerr, Richard A, 2009, Arctic Summer Sea ice could vanish soon but not suddenly. Science 323, 27 March 2009, p. 1665   (see pdf)

Ananthaswamy, A. 2009, Going, going….New Scientist 203, 2715:28-33.  (see pdf)

FEMA Launches Effort to Measure Impact of Climate Change on Flood Insurance --  http://www.nytimes.com/cwire/2009/06/11/11climatewire-fema-launches-effort-to-measure-impact-of-cli-7828.html

Global Sea Level Rise: Observation, Causes, and Prediction A Joint Earth Sciences/U.S. National Committees Session at the American Association for the Advancement of Science 2009 Annual Meeting, February, 2009.  http://sites.nationalacademies.org/pga/biso/IUGG/PGA_048545  (you can view ppts)

Dixon, T.H. and others.  2006. Subsidence and flooding in New Orleans:  A subsidence map of the city offers insight into the failure of the levees during Hurricane Katrina. Nature v. 441:587-588. (see pdf)


Northern Alaska Coastal Erosion, text and photos of wave erosion along the Beaufort Sea, http://geology.com/usgs/alaska-coastal-erosion/

NYT article Wanted: a new home for my country, May 8, 2009


Other sea level links……






3.    Consequences for Transportation as we know it. 

As CO2 increases and the climate warms there will be consequences to transportation in the arctic and through out the world.  Especially in the arctic, thawing ground will disrupt transportation, buildings, and other infrastructure. What are the costs and consequences of this for everyone?


Transportation and Climate  http://www.epa.gov/OMS/climate/  (there is quite a bit on this site, a couple people in your group may want to tackle this one)

Grahn et al, 2009, The role of biofuels for transportation in CO2 emission reduction scenarios with global versus regional carbon caps, Biomass and bioenergy v. 33 (3):360-371 (see pdf)

Arctic villages and impacts –



http://www.environmentalleader.com/2009/06/01/transportation-emissions-drop-by-52-in-2008/ and this update:


            New York Times articles about increases in Arctic shipping:





4.    Consequences for Energy Use

Fossil fuel burning is the primary source of CO2 yet we as a society are seeking to exploit US sources of fossil fuels like those off-shore and in the Arctic.  How do we rationalize our dependence on fossil fuels and still come ‘green” in our actions?


NPR  -- U.N. Report Points to Fossil Fuels in Warming (this is the news story about the next document).  http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=7128923

IPCC Summary for Policymakers (18 pages, lots of figures; a summary of the report that the NPR story refers to) 


Scientific American - CO2 emissions from energy use dropped in U.S. last year


The Union of Concerned Scientists:




Arctic Oil and Gas reserves



Science News and Views http://sciencenow.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/full/2009/528/2



5.    Climate Change and Health:  polar focus vs. low latitude

Climate change will impact human health in different ways and to different degrees around the world.   Are we prepared to think about sustainable health policies in a warming world?


Several articles can be found here: http://www.who.int/globalchange/publications/en/index.html



This is quite a lengthy report—you might split it up or pick and choose sections. http://chge.med.harvard.edu/programs/ccf/documents/ccf_report_oct_06.pdf

The CDC’s site about climate change and public health: http://www.cdc.gov/nceh/climatechange/

Paul Epstein has written a number of important articles; you can download many of those, listed here:


A news release about the impact of CO2 on city dwellers:


and the related journal article:

Jacobson, M.Z. 2010. Enhancement of Local Air Pollution by Urban CO2 Domes.  Environmental Science and Technology v. 44(7): 2497-2502 (see pdf)

A press release about the connection between high CO2 and asthma http://www.civilsocietyinstitute.org/media/pdfs/042904childhoodasthmaGWreleaseFINAL.pdf