Gaia: Introduction to The Earth System
Course URL: http://bulletins.psu.edu/bulletins/bluebook/college_campus_details.cfm?id=24&program=gscbs.htm
Earth 002: Section 002 is a non-mathematical introduction to the Earth, and to the forces and processes that shape the present-day global environment. The course focuses on global-scale human-induced changes: global climate change; destruction of the stratospheric ozone layer; and tropical deforestation, species extinction, and the loss of biodiversity.
The discussion of these environmental issues occupies about 40% of the course. Unlike other "environmental" courses, this one sets these issues in the context of the long-term evolution and natural variability of the Earth system. Thus the course is structured around three major themes–the issues of global change, time scales of change, and understanding the Earth as a system.
- Recognize that:
- the Earth operates as a complex system
- there is considerable interaction between the different components of this system (e.g. atmosphere, oceans, solid Earth, and biota)
- changes in one part of the system can be expected to impact all others to a greater or lesser degree
- Develop an understanding of how the Earth system operates at the global scale, and the consequences this has for regional variability
- Understand how this system has evolved through time
- Be able to synthesize this information to better appreciate the complexity of modern global change issues
- Be in a position to make more informed judgements on the nature and seriousness of these issues
The text required for this course is:
Kump, L.R., Kasting, J.F., and Crane, R.G. (1999). The Earth System, Prentice-Hall, Inc., New Jersey, 351pp.
The website contains a class schedule with topics, the course desription (syllabus) and an announcements page.
Final Grades will be determined from:
- Four in-class exams worth 15% each
- Homework assignments worth 15%
- In class assignments worth 10%
- Final project worth 15%