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« Teaching about Hazards Discussions
Teaching climate science tips and strategies
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I am also interested in having students work on a policy-related angle, but I have not had much success with that yet. Anyone have good ideas there?
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(If anyone wants to see a more recent version of this assignment and/or a powerpoint presentation that describes the assignment, let me know).
The students' final product is a thesis-driven paper, using at least some contemporary sources, on the cause(s) of the Dust Bowl.
On the way there, we analyze temperature and precipitation records for several long-record stations in North America, some in the "traditional" Dust Bowl (e.g. Manhattan, KS) and some outside it (e.g. Minneapolis MN). Each pair of students is responsible for one station; they do the analyses in EXCEL and create powerpoints that the whole class can access. Students discover that some of the stations show late 19th-century droughts of about the same order of magnitude as the 1930s drought; they also discover that high temperatures and low precipitation were more widespread than the classic Dust Bowl region (so were the economic effects. . . )
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Significance of this discussion include:
1) Creating a links between the effects of Climate Change on known human history such that students can internalize the potential for future climate change. Specifically how past climate effected not only the populations health but its creative endeavors as well.
2) Can be used to show that there could be potential winners and losers in a climate change model (Europe vs. the Americas).
3) Knowns and unknowns about the causality of climate change and why the subject matter is so contentious. This leaves the door open for students to draw there own conclusions about what they feel their responsibility is to affect change in there lives based on the compelling scientific arguments you make for humans-caused CC.
5467:18387Share edittextuser=6049 post_id=18387 initial_post_id=0 thread_id=5467
I like to use recent climate change (past 10,000 years) to show the nature of change through time. My emphasis on time goes beyond the usual deep time (age) and ordering of events offered in most geology texts. For nearly twenty years I've also emphasized additional qualities such as patterns, magnitudes, frequencies, durations, and rates.
With all the emphasis on human-caused climate change, I've found that many students believe that if anthropogenic cycling of carbon ceased, then we'd have no changes to contend with at all. The most dangerous parts of such delusional thinking are (a) that carrying capacity of the planet is fixed and static, (b) that we can safely build to that capacity and (c) natural climate changes take place over hundreds of thousands of years if not longer and are neither rapid nor noticeable in the short term.
In 2008, university presidents and chancellors circulated and signed a letter advocating sustainability "...to reestablish the more stable climatic conditions that have made human progress over the last 10,000 years possible." I'd rather that the important issue of sustainability were championed through less carelessly written documents.
For a long time I've used the varved record in the Elk Lake core to have students confront their assumptions about these qualities of time. It shows four distinct climate changes in the past 10,000 years, which if repeated would certainly cause hardship on a planet built out "to capacity." A student & I published a paper (Journal of Geoscience Education, v. 55, n. 1, January, 2007, p. 36-50) on the uses of many exercises to teach about qualities of change through time, and the Elk Lake exercise is outlined in there.
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