Our Earth is warming.
According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, "Earth's average temperature has risen by 1.4°F over the past century, and is projected to rise another 2 to 11.5°F over the next hundred years."
That seems like a small number - an average of only 1.4°F. It is much less than we usually experience as morning turns into afternoon, evening and night. How could such a tiny temperature change be important? Besides, might it not actually be a good thing? A little more warmth on the earth might give us more and better crop yields. Winters might be a little less difficult. So what's the big deal?
Yet that small rise is important, both because it has already had a damaging impact on much of the earth as we know it today and because it is just the first part of a further rise in temperature that is certain to come. Another 2 to 11.5°F will not be a good thing for humanity or for the plants and animals with which we share this earth.
It is the purpose of this course to study in detail the issue of climate change, with a specific emphasis on global warming. In the course of that study, we will examine the causes, impacts and possible solutions to this shared threat to humanity's well-being. This introductory class will provide an overview of the content of the course, which will be covered in more detail in subsequent classes.