Gaia: Introduction to The Earth System
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%