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York University
Natural Science
NATS 1760
Darrin Durant

NATS 1760 DARRIN DURANT/JAMES ELWICK Monday, October 29, 2012 Climate Change 1: What’s At Issue; The History  Welcome to the Greenhouse… 1800-1988  „Mother Earth,‟ Whole Earth Review(2000)  Hurricane Sandy  Review 3 main themes of course 1) Public vs. experts 2) risk 3) doubt and certainty- who to trust  a few basic terminological points:  climate vs. weather( expect and get)  Anthropogenic( human-caused)- what‟s different?  difference between greenhouse effect, global warming and climate change  Greenhouse gases( not just CO2: CH4, H2O vapor, HFC‟s) o methane- biggest danger to atmosphere  Geophysics( interdisciplinary; complex; unlike high school science; hard to falsify) o from ocean to top of the „world‟  feedback( negative and positive) o negative feedback(way of maintaining a temperature at a stable level) o positive feedback (leads to an unstable system) o characterize our views on nature, climate change etc.  Albedo( why wear white in summer) o reflectiveness of materials  „Forcing‟(birthday candles); state/phase changes( ice into water) o what is being added to the system?  Fossil fuels  Greenhouse effect( „bathtub‟ image)  “as a dam built across a river causes a local deepening of the stream, so our atmosphere, throws as a barrier across the terrestrial [infrared] rays, produces a local heightening of the temperature of the Earth‟s surface.”(John Tyndall)  stuff that bounces off the earth get trapped in the atmosphere, atoms vibrate= heat  Carbon cycle: CO2 as gas in air, dissolved gas in water  Plants, algae combine with sunlight to make more „compressed‟ carbons  sugars, oils, cholesterol, and „hydrocarbons‟- all store energy( originally, sunlight)  Millions of years- plants, algae „fixed‟ carbon, died, crushed into fossils, oil deposits- thus energy is dense “fossil fuels”  Burning carbon- source fuel (wood) uses energy and releases the carbon  Oil has more energy and more carbon- thus when we burn it, releasing more carbon than ever before- burning millions of years of collected solar energy in years  Themes/concepts of climate change module (1):  experts and public: o Climate Change inverts normal relation of experts to the public o Anxiety because finding that climate far less stable than thought( through positive feedback, not just negative)- humans have more effect on climate then thought; scientists more scared of risks than human  smuggling in values into technical discussion  what we consider „nature‟( thus climate) confused; often projections of society o Competition vs. what we need to protect( no one agrees on what nature really is)  Climate Change science more complex than high school image of science- hurts credibility and sense of certainty o Time pressures- very real world policy implications( you can‟t prove „hurricane‟ is caused by climate change)  Themes of climate change module(2):  why do people box selves into polarized, binary positions?  path dependency(QWERTY) o Everyone has adopted the same system o Choices are dependent on choices made years ago o Created industry infrastructure that is dependent on coal, oil, nuclear power etc.- easier to access  Silver buckshot, not silver bullets o Single, big way to fix the climate  it‟s not „earth‟ we‟re saving( it‟ll do fine without us)  Climate „determinism‟ o Climate is destiny  the nature of projecting the future- ceteris paribus( lack of all other things being equal) o Uniformitarianism vs. catastrophism – same inputs will occur vs. things will change in a radical, severe way HISTORY OF SCIENCE OF CLIMATE CHANGE  Joseph Fourier early 19th century: o Earth-moon surface  John Tyndall 1859 o Glaciers ice ages o Coins greenhouse effect o Serendipitous discovery  Geological dispute: uniformitarianism( winner) vs. catastrophism( loser)- assumption that there are no sudden changes  Malthusianism- the population grows geometrically, food supply grows in a straight line( neo-Malthusians believe that we will run out of food  Svante Arrhenius 1896 o „Science as play‟(just curiosity) o anthropogenic climate change is possible o critics- cite negative feedback mechanism of water vapor- clouds; ignored CO2 in oceans o negative feedback=> stability  Dust bowls of 1930‟s – large parts of the great plain turn to dust( hasn‟t rained), climate changes without human interaction  Guy Callender 1938 o Anthropogenic climate change is happening o Critics response: nature too bug, we‟re too punt  WWII- WMD‟s arrive with Manhattan project  Nuclear testing, Bikini Atoll( relatively small one)  Boom, BOOM, BOOM  nuclear tests get bigger and more, and more and more widespread  Nuclear arms race to 1985 => understandable cultural anxieties  world might end- who causes it? HUMANS  Postwar developments 1945-1960 of:  OCEANOGRAPHY- currents; thermohaline effect on climate( cold
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