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This page first made public: May 30, 2017
In this 3+ week module, students will experience the integration of climate science, economics, and law in the formulation of federal policy to address climate change. The module is interdisciplinary and interactive. Students will use an educational, web-based Dynamic Integrated Climate-Economy model (webDICE) to estimate the social costs of climate change and its abatement under different future emission scenarios. They will also play the Carbon Emissions Game to gain an understanding of the tradeoffs amongst different approaches to regulating carbon emissions. Upon completion, students will be able to explain the scientific evidence for man-made climate change from fossil fuel emissions, the policy options available for achieving emission reductions (e.g., emissions trading, carbon tax), and the legal basis for regulating carbon pollution under the Clean Air Act. The module emphasizes the importance of systems thinking when seeking viable solutions to complex socio-environmental problems like climate change. The capstone assignment asks students to write an Op-Ed arguing for the need to regulate carbon emissions in a Role, Audience, Format, Topic (RAFT) writing exercise. This module promotes responsible stewardship of the Earth.
Strengths of the Module
Students who learn with this module will:
- Connect the causes, effects, and potential solutions to climate change in a socio-environmental system analysis.
- Run a global climate-economy model and interpret the output in terms of the social cost of carbon pollution.
- Argue for policy action to curb climate change based on sound scientific and economic reasoning.
A great fit for courses in:
- Climate Science
- Climate and Society
- Earth and Environmental Science
- Energy Policy
- Environmental Policy
- Environmental Economics
- Environmental Sociology
- Environmental Studies
- Global Change
- Natural Resource Economics
The module is divided into 7 Units and explores the grand challenge of addressing climate change from a socio-environmental systems perspective. The first 6 units are topic-oriented and designed to fit into a long (~75 minute) lecture period. The final Unit which reviews and synthesizes the module and introduces the final assignment is shorter. Each Unit is sub-divided into Parts to denote a change in sub-topic and/or activity. It will take at least 3 weeks to complete Units 1-6. This module is dense and activity-based and could easily be stretched to 4-6 weeks with thorough treatment of each topic.
Supported community developed, nationally-recognized Earth Science Literacy Principles:
- Earth Science Literacy 1.1: Earth scientists find solutions to society's needs.
- Earth Science Literacy 1.2: Earth scientists use a large variety of scientific principles to understand how our planet works.
- Earth Science Literacy 1.5: Earth scientists use their understanding of the past to forecast Earth's future.
Supported Essential Principles of Climate Science:
2. Climate is regulated by complex interactions among components of the Earth system.
4. Our understanding of the climate system is improved through observations, theoretical studies, and modeling.
5. Climate varies over space and time through both natural and human-made processes.
6. Human activities are impacting the climate system.
7. Climate change will have consequences for the Earth system and human lives.
Addressed community developed, nationally recognized Atmospheric Science Literacy Principles:
- Atmospheric Science Literacy Principle 7.4: Weather forecasts and predictions of future climate assist us in implementing mitigation strategies and adaptation to new climatic conditions.
- Atmospheric Science Literacy Principle 7.5: Citizens need to become educated about Earth's atmosphere to make informed decisions on issues at local, regional, and global scales.
Table of Contents
- Instructor Materials: Regulating Carbon Emissions Module
Unit 1Evidence and Impacts of Climate Change Unit 2Climate Forcings Unit 3Dynamic Integrated Climate Economy (DICE) Modeling Unit 4Towards Climate Change Policy in the U.S. Unit 5Abating Carbon Emissions Unit 6Carbon Emissions Game Unit 7Climate Change from the Socio-Environmental Systems Perspective
- Student Materials
- Instructor Stories
- Join the Community