For the InstructorThese student materials complement the Future of Food Instructor Materials. If you would like your students to have access to the student materials, we suggest you either point them at the Student Version which omits the framing pages with information designed for faculty (and this box). Or you can download these pages in several formats that you can include in your course website or local Learning Managment System. Learn more about using, modifying, and sharing InTeGrate teaching materials.
Understanding the Science of Climate Change: The Basics
Module 9 focuses on how agriculture contributes to global climate and how climate change will affect global agriculture. In addition, we'll explore agricultural strategies for adapting to a changing climate. But, before we explore the connections between global climate change and food production, we want to make sure that everyone understands some of the basic science underpinning global climate change.
Have you ever thought about the difference between weather and climate? If you don't like the weather right now, what do you do? In many places, you just need to "wait five minutes"! If you don't like the climate where you live, what do you do? Move! Weather is the day-to-day fluctuation in meteorological variables including temperature, precipitation, wind, and relative humidity, whereas climate is the long-term average of those variables. If someone asked you what the climate of your hometown is like, your response might be "hot and dry" or "cold and damp". Often we describe climate by the consistent expected temperature and precipitation pattern for the geographic region. So, when we talk about climate change, we're not talking about the day-to-day weather, which can at times be quite extreme. Instead, we're talking about changes in those long-term temperature and precipitation patterns that are quite predictable. A warming climate means that the average temperature over the long-term is increasing, but there can still be cold snowy days and blizzards even!
The two videos below are excellent introductions to the science of climate change. We'll use these videos as your introduction to the basic science behind our understanding of climate change that we'll build on as we explore the connections between climate change and food production in the rest of this module. Follow instructions from your instructor for this introductory section of Module 9.
Optional Video -Climate Change: Lines of Evidence
The National Academies of Sciences Engineering and Medicine have prepared an excellent 20-minute sequence of videos, Climate Change: Lines of Evidence, that explains how scientists have arrived at the state of knowledge about current climate change and its causes. Use the worksheet linked below to summarize the story that the video tells about anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions and the resulting changes in Earth's climate. The narrator speaks pretty quickly, so you'll want to pause the video and rewind when you need to make sure you understand what he's explaining. It's important to take the time to understand and answer the questions in the worksheet because you'll use this information in a future assignment.
If instructed by your instructor, download detailed questions about the Climate Change: Lines of Evidence videos:
- MSWord docx -<em>Climate Change: Lines of Evidence</em> video questions (Microsoft Word 2007 (.docx) 25kB Jan3 18)
- pdf -<em>Climate Change: Lines of Evidence</em> video questions (Acrobat (PDF) 505kB Jan3 18)
Climate Change: Lines of Evidence Videos (25:59)
If the video does not show up, please watch on the NAS website.
Another resource you can use to help answer the questions is the booklet that goes with this video: Climate Change: Evidence, Impacts, and Choices. It is 40 pages, so you might not want to print it. Use it as an online reference.
Optional Video: Earth: The Operators' Manual
Penn State geology professor, Richard Alley's, 45-minute video uses earth science to tell the story of Earth's climate history and our relationship with fossil fuels. There is no worksheet associated with this video.
Optional Follow-up Questions to the Videos
If instructed by your instructor, download the following questions that can be applied to either video:
- MSWord docx - Optional Video Assignment Questions: Understanding the Science of Global Climate Change (Microsoft Word 2007 (.docx) 27kB Jan3 18)
- pdf -Optional Video Assignment Questions: Understanding the Science of Global Climate Change (Acrobat (PDF) 343kB Jan3 18)