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ENVS504: Society, Economy, and the Environment

Unit 3: Anthropogenic Climate Change and Energy Resources   Although in the past, climate change has been linked to volcanic activity, meteor collisions, and other natural phenomena, the changes occurring now are for the first time closely linked to human activities, in particular the use of fossil fuels as an energy source and land use change.  The transition from fossil fuels to renewable fuels (such as solar, wind, and biomass) will not only help human societies shift their reliance from exhaustible to renewable sources (an important task in the face of peak oil, or reaching the maximum production of oil after which production declines), but these renewable sources are also either carbon neutral or have zero carbon emissions.  Transitions from fossil fuels to renewable fuels have a cost, however, as land previously dedicated to natural habitats and agriculture will need to be converted to biomass production (or flooded) for energy generation.  These land use changes also impact carbon sequestration and albedo, two key factors in climate change.  For these reasons, current climate change and energy use are linked by the same human activities.

In this unit, you will briefly review the science behind climate change as well as renewable and nonrenewable energy resources.  You will then learn about the interconnection between climate change and energy resources.  This interconnection makes solutions for both problems difficult, particularly in the long term.

Unit 3 Time Advisory
This unit should take approximately 10.25 hours to complete.

☐    Subunit 3.1: 6.25 hours

☐    Sub-subunit 3.1.1: 3.5 hours

☐    Sub-subunit 3.1.2: 1.25 hours

☐    Sub-subunit 3.1.3: 0.5 hours

☐    Sub-subunit 3.1.4: 1 hours

☐    Subunit 3.2: 4 hours

☐    Sub-subunit 3.2.1: 0.75 hours

☐    Sub-subunit 3.2.2: 0.5 hours

☐    Sub-subunit 3.2.3: 0.25 hours

☐    Sub-subunit 3.2.4: 1.5 hours

☐    Sub-subunit 3.2.5: 0.5 hours

☐    Sub-subunit 3.2.6: 0.5 hours

Unit3 Learning Outcomes
Upon successful completion of this unit, the student will be able to: - Differentiate between renewable and nonrenewable energy sources. - Recognize the production signature of a nonrenewable resource (e.g., peak oil). - Explain why fossil fuels are more disruptive to climate conditions than renewable energy sources. - Explain why land use change can contribute positively and negatively to both climate change and energy resources. - Briefly describe how human energy use has altered the carbon balance between the biosphere and the atmosphere, driving climate change. - Explain how the switch to carbon-neutral or carbon-free energy sources will help avoid severe climate change and mitigate energy shortages. 

3.1 Climate Change   3.1.1 Processes and Controls   - Reading: University of Illinois: Tom Theis and Jonathan Tomkin (eds.)’s Sustainability: A Comprehensive Foundation: “Chapter 3: Climate and Global Change” Link: University of Illinois: Tom Theis and Jonathan Tomkin (eds.)’s Sustainability: A Comprehensive Foundation: “Chapter 3: Climate and Global Change” (HTML)

 Also available in:  

[PDF](http://www.earth.illinois.edu/sustain/documents/col11325-1.38.pdf)  

[ePub](http://www.earth.illinois.edu/sustain/sustainability_text.html)  

 Instructions: Please click on the above link and read Section 3.1
(page 49 of the PDF) and Section 3.2 (pages 50–63) for an
explanation of the natural processes that drive climate to remain
stable, or to change from warm periods to cold periods.  

 Reading this article and taking notes should take approximately 1
hour.  

 Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use
displayed on the webpage above.
  • Reading: American Natural History Museum, Center for Biodiversity and Conservation: William Schlesinger and Ryan Eick’s “The Global Carbon Cycle and Climate Change” Link: American Natural History Museum, Center for Biodiversity and Conservation: William Schlesinger and Ryan Eick’s “The Global Carbon Cycle and Climate Change” (DOC and PPT)

    Instructions: Please click on the above link and select the five links to download all materials.  You may have to register a free account by clicking the “register” link at the top of the page to download these files.  The materials will be downloaded into a zipped folder on your hard drive, so you will need to extract the files to access them.  The downloadable files include a synthesis report, a Power Point presentation, and three Exercises.  The synthesis report describes the carbon cycle and how human activities have altered the cycle to increase carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere (increasing climate change).  The presentation provides an overview of the report with additional images and illustrations.  Exercises 1 and 2 provide activities related to case studies of how climate change affects single species and ecosystems.  Although answers are not provided for the discussion questions, these questions would be excellent topics for the Saylor Foundation’s discussion forum.  Exercise 3 provides an opportunity to learn and write about the standards use to estimate climate change impacts on communities and ecosystems; this exercise will not be covered in the final exam, but it may be of interest to you.

    Reading these materials, taking notes, and completing the exercises should take approximately 2 hours and 30 minutes.

    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use on the webpages displayed above.

3.1.2 Historical Climate Change   - Reading: University of Illinois: Tom Theis and Jonathan Tomkin (eds.)’s Sustainability: A Comprehensive Foundation: “Chapter 3: Climate and Global Change” Link: University of Illinois: Tom Theis and Jonathan Tomkin (eds.)’s Sustainability: A Comprehensive Foundation: “Chapter 3: Climate and Global Change” (HTML)

 Also available in:  

[PDF](http://www.earth.illinois.edu/sustain/documents/col11325-1.38.pdf)  

[ePub](http://www.earth.illinois.edu/sustain/sustainability_text.html)  

 Instructions: Please click on the above link and read Section 3.3
(pages 63–76 of the PDF) for a description of the climate conditions
that humans experienced over their evolutionary history up until the
Industrial Revolution.  

 Reading this article and taking notes should take approximately 1
hour.  

 Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use
displayed on the webpage above.
  • Reading: University of Newcastle: Jan Oosthoek’s Environmental History Resources: “The Little Ice Age, Ca. 1300-1870” Link: University of Newcastle: Jan Oosthoek’s Environmental History Resources: “The Little Ice Age, Ca. 1300-1870” (HTML)

    Instructions: Please click on the above link and read this webpage.  This entry describes an extended period of global cooling and its dramatic impacts upon societies around the world.  The most severe impact was to shrink agricultural production, leading to famines and most likely prompting the establishment of new trade and human migration routes that globalized many cultures.

    Reading this article and taking notes should take approximately 15 minutes.

    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

3.1.3 Climate Influenced by Human Activities   - Reading: University of Illinois: Tom Theis and Jonathan Tomkin (eds.)’s Sustainability: A Comprehensive Foundation: “Chapter 3: Climate and Global Change” Link: University of Illinois: Tom Theis and Jonathan Tomkin (eds.)’s Sustainability: A Comprehensive Foundation: “Chapter 3: Climate and Global Change” (HTML)

 Also available in:  

[PDF](http://www.earth.illinois.edu/sustain/documents/col11325-1.38.pdf)  

[ePub](http://www.earth.illinois.edu/sustain/sustainability_text.html)  

 Instructions: Please click on the above link and read Section 3.4
(pages 76–97 of the PDF) for a discussion of the evidence for
human-induced climate change, including historical weather data and
observed changes in species distributions and ecosystems.  

 Reading this article and taking notes should take approximately 1
hour.  

 Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use
displayed on the webpage above.
  • Lecture: TED Talks: James Hansen’s “Why I Must Speak out about Climate Change” Link: TED Talks: James Hansen’s “Why I Must Speak out about Climate Change” (MP4)

    Instructions: Please click on the above link and watch James Hansen’s TED Talk.  He explains the greenhouse effect, how energy policy favoring fossil fuels exacerbates this effect, and what the consequences may be for future human communities in the United States.

    Watching this lecture and taking notes should take approximately 30 minutes.

    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

3.1.4 Predictions for Future Climate Change   - Reading: University of Illinois: Tom Theis and Jonathan Tomkin (eds.)’s Sustainability: A Comprehensive Foundation: “Chapter 3: Climate and Global Change” Link: University of Illinois: Tom Theis and Jonathan Tomkin (eds.)’s Sustainability: A Comprehensive Foundation: “Chapter 3: Climate and Global Change” (HTML)

 Also available in:  

[PDF](http://www.earth.illinois.edu/sustain/documents/col11325-1.38.pdf)  

[ePub](http://www.earth.illinois.edu/sustain/sustainability_text.html)  

 Instructions: Please click on the above link and read Section 3.5
(pages 98–115 of the PDF) for illustrations of what climate change
might entail in the near future (over the next 100-200 years) and
how human contributions (particularly CO<sub>2</sub> emissions) have
increased the probability of warmer temperatures.  

 Reading this article and taking notes should take approximately 1
hour.  

 Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use
displayed on the webpage above.

3.2 Energy   3.2.1 Fossil Fuels and Peak Oil   - Reading: University of Illinois: Tom Theis and Jonathan Tomkin (eds.)’s Sustainability: A Comprehensive Foundation: “Chapter 8: Sustainable Energy Systems” Link: University of Illinois: Tom Theis and Jonathan Tomkin (eds.)’s Sustainability: A Comprehensive Foundation: “Chapter 8: Sustainable Energy Systems” (PDF)

 Also available in:  

[PDF](http://www.earth.illinois.edu/sustain/documents/col11325-1.38.pdf)  

[ePub](http://www.earth.illinois.edu/sustain/sustainability_text.html)  

 Instructions: Please click on the above link and read Section 8.1
(pages 303–308 of the PDF) and Sections 8.2.4 and 8.2.5 (pages
311–320) for a description of the historical impacts of energy use
and the current status of fossil fuel availability.  More
information on the ways that these different energy sources are used
will be discussed in sub-subunits 3.2.4–3.2.6.  

 Reading this article and taking notes should take approximately 45
minutes.  

 Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use
displayed on the webpage above.

3.2.2 Renewable Sources   - Reading: University of Illinois: Tom Theis and Jonathan Tomkin (eds.)’s Sustainability: A Comprehensive Foundation: “Chapter 8: Sustainable Energy Systems” Link: University of Illinois: Tom Theis and Jonathan Tomkin (eds.)’s Sustainability: A Comprehensive Foundation: “Chapter 8: Sustainable Energy Systems” (PDF)

 Also available in:  

[PDF](http://www.earth.illinois.edu/sustain/documents/col11325-1.38.pdf)  

[ePub](http://www.earth.illinois.edu/sustain/sustainability_text.html)  

 Instructions: Please click on the above link and read Section
8.2.6.2 (pages 322–332) for a brief overview of the different kinds
of renewable energy sources that are currently available.  More
information on the ways that these different energy sources are used
will be discussed in Sub-subunits 3.2.4–3.2.6.  

 Reading this article and taking notes should take approximately 30
minutes.  

 Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use
displayed on the webpage above.

3.2.3 Nuclear Energy   - Reading: University of Illinois: Tom Theis and Jonathan Tomkin (eds.)’s Sustainability: A Comprehensive Foundation: “Chapter 8: Sustainable Energy Systems” Link: University of Illinois: Tom Theis and Jonathan Tomkin (eds.)’s Sustainability: A Comprehensive Foundation: “Chapter 8: Sustainable Energy Systems” (PDF)

 Also available in:  

[PDF](http://www.earth.illinois.edu/sustain/documents/col11325-1.38.pdf)  

[ePub](http://www.earth.illinois.edu/sustain/sustainability_text.html)  

 Instructions: Please click on the above link and read Section
8.2.6.1 (pages 320–322 of the PDF) for a brief explanation of
nuclear energy and its history.  

 Reading this article and taking notes should take approximately 15
minutes.  

 Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use
displayed on the webpage above.

3.2.4 Energy Sources for Electricity Generation   - Reading: University of Illinois: Tom Theis and Jonathan Tomkin (eds.)’s Sustainability: A Comprehensive Foundation: “Chapter 8: Sustainable Energy Systems” Link: University of Illinois: Tom Theis and Jonathan Tomkin (eds.)’s Sustainability: A Comprehensive Foundation: “Chapter 8: Sustainable Energy Systems” (PDF)

 Also available in:  

[PDF](http://www.earth.illinois.edu/sustain/documents/col11325-1.38.pdf)  

[ePub](http://www.earth.illinois.edu/sustain/sustainability_text.html)  

 Instructions: Please click on the above link and read Section 8.4.1
(pages 337–365 of the PDF) for an explanation of how different
energy sources are converted into electricity.  This section also
discusses efficiency, pollution, and safety issues.  

 Reading this section and taking notes should take approximately 1
hour and 30 minutes.  

 Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use
displayed on the webpage above.

3.2.5 Liquid Fuels   - Reading: University of Illinois: Tom Theis and Jonathan Tomkin (eds.)’s Sustainability: A Comprehensive Foundation: “Chapter 8: Sustainable Energy Systems” Link: University of Illinois: Tom Theis and Jonathan Tomkin (eds.)’s Sustainability: A Comprehensive Foundation: “Chapter 8: Sustainable Energy Systems” (PDF)

 Also available in:  

[PDF](http://www.earth.illinois.edu/sustain/documents/col11325-1.38.pdf)  

[ePub](http://www.earth.illinois.edu/sustain/sustainability_text.html)  

 Instructions: Please click on the above link and read Section 8.4.2
(pages 365–375 of the PDF) for an explanation of how different
energy sources are converted into liquid fuels (primarily for
transportation).  This section also discusses efficiency, pollution,
and safety issues.  

 Reading this article and taking notes should take approximately 30
minutes.  

 Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use
displayed on the webpage above.

3.2.6 Heat Generation   - Reading: University of Illinois: Tom Theis and Jonathan Tomkin (eds.)’s Sustainability: A Comprehensive Foundation: “Chapter 8: Sustainable Energy Systems” Link: University of Illinois: Tom Theis and Jonathan Tomkin (eds.)’s Sustainability: A Comprehensive Foundation: “Chapter 8: Sustainable Energy Systems” (PDF)

 Also available in:  

[PDF](http://www.earth.illinois.edu/sustain/documents/col11325-1.38.pdf)  

[ePub](http://www.earth.illinois.edu/sustain/sustainability_text.html)  

 Instructions: Please click on the above link and read Section 8.4.3
(pages 375–383 of the PDF) for an explanation of how different
energy sources are used to generate heat (primarily to heat
buildings).  This section will also discuss efficiency, pollution,
and safety issues.  

 Reading this article and taking notes should take approximately 30
minutes.  

 Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use
displayed on the webpage above.