Every week all students will be assigned readings

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August - 2012

Perspectives on Climate Change

Fall 2012 - 3 credits

Prof. M. Tedesco (CCNY and GC)


Ph: 2126507027 (office)

Cell: 2023754884

Wednesdays 10:00 – 13:00

The Graduate Center of the City University of New York and CCNY

Room: 3212 Graduate Center

Course description.

This course will focus on multiple aspects of Climate Change using a cross-disciplinary approach. Climate Change includes a large body of topics and it is obviously impossible to provide a comprehensive view of the topic within one course. The core of the course will attempt, therefore, at focusing on those topics related to Geography and Earth and Environmental Sciences with contributions from other disciplines (such as Social Sciences, Architecture, Media and Communication, Science Policy and Anthropology, etc.). Classes will be given by the instructor and by distinguished invited speakers. The course is oriented toward registered graduate and master students. The motivation is to bring together students from different sub-disciplines of the EES program to interact and discuss topics concerning Climate Change from different perspectives. This will expose the students to either cutting edge research and existing literature that will complement their main field of study. This is especially important in the case of Climate Change where multiple disciplines are involved. It is further important for the students of the Earth and Environmental Sciences (EES) program at the Graduate Center, often finding themselves separated into the physical and not-physical sciences. This course offers an opportunity for the students to get together and creates a basic ground where all students could interact. No specific knowledge of math and physics is required nor of climate related topics. Graduate students from programs different from the Earth and Environmental Sciences (EES) are invited to register, but are kindly asked to contact the instructor before doing so. Master students interested in registering will need to contact the instructor.

Classes will be at the Graduate Center.

Short-term Assignments.

  1. Assigned readings: Every week all students will be assigned readings. For each reading, the student must hand in an “article review” by email before the beginning of the next class to the instructor and deliver a printed version of it in class, if they want. No assignment will be accepted late without a legitimate excuse. The assignment must be named as follows: Surname_name_date_revname.docx’ where ‘revname’ is the abbreviated article or book chapter name containing, for example, first author’s name and date. A student named Marco Tedesco, reviewing a paper by John White published in 2006 and delivering the assignment on November 23 2012 will name the file as follows: ‘Tedesco_Marco_11232012_white2006.doc’. Students are allowed to pick up additional readings in case they want to but they will have to coordinate with the instructor in doing so.

  2. Lectures: The classes will be focusing on both informal presentations by the instructor/invited speakers and the discussion on the articles assigned to the students. Together with the article review on point # 1 the students will have to provide a summary of the presentation of the previous week following the guidelines mentioned above. The length round 500-600 words (that’s about 1 page single space with 12 point font) summary, including critique, and your own opinions. Students can extend the review up to a maximum of 1000 words. Students will be informally presenting and discussing the articles and the professor and/or speakers will act mostly as ‘moderator’, as in a panel discussion or a conference meeting.

  3. Course text book: There is not a specific textbook. Every week there will be one ore more readings assigned from several books or article identified by the instructor (this will be updated with the syllabus).

  4. Book review: Students will choose one of several suggested books to review. Students may also review a book of their own choosing, with prior-approval of the instructor. Book reviews must be 1200-1800 words (that’s about 2-3 pages), and include an overview of the book, a description of each chapter, and discussion of what was done well or done poorly, and a discussion of which audience is the book good for. This is due at the end of semester (see below).

  5. Research papers: For final purposes, students might be aggregated into groups or teams. This is done either to reduce the number of final presentations that we will have to go through during the last class but also to promote and to promote the aspect of working in teams with your peers (whether you like it or not “none of us is as smart as the sum of us”). Each student or group will write two research papers at the end of the semester: a first paper will be concerning the book assigned at the beginning of the semester. This will be done by each student, and not by the group. The second final assignment will be produced by the different teams or single students and will consist in an essay 5-10 pages on a topic selected by the student concerning his/her area of expertise. The group or the student might want to add an introductory background on the topic and add some critical thinking (the essay does not just have to be a large summary, though this will be a good part of it). For example, how do you relate the topic in your essay to the others that we looked at ? What are your opinions regard the selected topic ? How does it fit in the context of climate change and global warming debate ? What is the potential of advancing our understanding of climate change and what are some of the things that can be or need to be done ? We will have time to discusss more in detail this and other aspects during classes.

  6. Final presentation: each group of students/student will make an individual presentation of their essay at the end of the semester.

  7. Website and transfer of knowledge

During class all students will contribute to the creation and development of a website where we will be posting all the class material. In addition, we will be posting videos, powerpoint presentations and any material that invited speakers might want to share with us and make it available for the public.

Grades and criteria

The following criteria will be used for the final grade. There will be no mid-term or temporary grade during class.

  • Participation in class and weekly deliverables 30%

  • book review 20%

  • website and IT knowledge 20%

  • final paper and presentation 30%

Preliminary schedule for classes

Lec #



Specific topics/Speaker





Physical Science of Climate Change I

Class Introduction/Definition of climate/ Basic physics principle of climate and climate drivers/unveiling the past

- MGHS – Ch 1.

- AD – Ch 1, 2, 3 , 4

Additional Readings

- PO – Ch 2.

- DR – Ch1



Physical Science of Climate Change II

Understanding the present and projecting the future/ Current observations/Climate models/

- AD, Ch. 5,6,7,8

- MGHS – Ch 2

Additional readings

- RH pp. 159 - 216



Global warming debate

R. Alley’s movie: Earth Operator’s manual + Bob Tanner

Alley’s selected readings

- EK (entire book)



Historical overview of Climate change

Joshua Wolfe (climatescience.tv)

- Spencer Weart's essay: Government: The View from Washington, DC

http://www.aip.org/history/climate/pdf/Govt.pdf- IPCC Historical Overview of Climate Science from AR4:


Selection of topic for final essay






Climate Change and the poles

Allan Frei (Hunter College)

- The Economist – Vanishing North – June 16th 2012 Issue


10/10 Monday schedule

NO CLASS according to ccny schedule

We can watch more movies.



Climate Change and the Media

Andy Revkin( NYT and Pace University). Title: Why climate and the media are a bad fit, and why that may not matter.



Climate change and soft infrastructures: protecting NYC from SLR

Catherine Seavitt (School of Architecture, CCNY)

(me in Florida), need to change class

Chapters from SeaRise book



Communicating Climate change at the poles through sonification and visualization: A CCNY sponsored projects

Ina Saltz (Art Dept., CCNY) and Jon Perl (Music Dept., CCNY)



Energy, sustainability and climate change

Balazs Fekete (CUNY Cross Road Environmental Initiative Institute and CCNY)



Tedesco out



Climate modeling and communication

Gavin Schmidt (NASA GISS)



Archaeology, Climate Change, and Long Term Sustainability

Tom McGovern (The Graduate Center of CUNY)

Toward an Integrated History to Guide the Future, van de Leeuw et al.

Collapse and Reorganization in Social-Ecological Systems: Questions, Some Ideas, and Policy Implications, Abel et al.

Hegmon et al., Social Transformation and Its Human Costs in the Prehispanic U.S. Southwest




Tedesco at Conference in San Francisco



CLASS presentation


For classes:

Selected readings for class.

  • D. Randall – Atmosphere, Clouds and Climate – Princeton University Press – 2012 (DR)

  • A. Dessler – Introduction to Modern Climate Change – Cambridge 2012 (AD)

  • Emmanuel K – What we know about climate change, 2007 , MIT Press (EK)

  • J. P. Peixoto and A. H Oort, Physics of climate – American Institute of Physics (PO)

  • K. McGuffie and A. Henderson-Sellers – A climate modeling primer, Wiley and Sons, 2004 (MGHS)

  • J. Marsching and A. Polli – Far Field. Digital Culture, Climate change and the poles, ISBN 9781841504780, Paperback 272 pages, 230 x 170 Published November 2011 , Imprint: Intellect (MP)

  • Robert Henson, The rough guide to Climate change – Rough guides (RH)

  • The Discovery of Global Warming, Spencer Weart 2003

Movie list:

  • Everything’s cool

  • Earth – The operator’s manual

  • Cool it !

To check

- Six degrees could change the world

- The great global warming swindle

- Out of balance: exxon Mobil’s impact on Climate change

Required Books:

1- W. Behringer – A cultural history of climate, Polity Press, 2010 (Sam)

2- R. Alley - The two mile time machine, Princeton, 2000 (OLU)

3- S. Weart – The discovery of global warming, Harvard University Press, 2008 (Renhuma)

4- B. McKibben – The global warming reader – Penguin 2011 (Patrick)

5- E. Kolbert - Field Notes from a Catastrophe: Man, Nature, and Climate Change, Bloomsbury , 2006 (Kamilla)

6- T. H. Friedman – Hot, Flat and Crowded – Why we need a green revolution and how it can renew America – Picador , 2009 (Chad)

7- B. Doppelt, The Power of Sustainable Thinking: How to Create a Positive Future for the Climate, the Planet, Your Organization and Your Life, Routledge, 2010 (Annesia)

8- S. Schneider , Science as a Contact Sport: Inside the Battle to Save Earth's Climate, National Gepgraphic, 2009

9- F. Krupp and M. Horn, Earth: The Sequel: The Race to Reinvent Energy and Stop Global Warming, Norton and Company, 2009 (Alejandro)

10- T. Flannery, The Weather Makers: How Man Is Changing the Climate and What It Means for Life on Earth, Grove Press, 2001 (Renhuma)

11- A. Lappe, Diet for a Hot Planet: The Climate Crisis at the End of Your Fork and What You Can Do about It, Bloomsbury, 2010 (kaitilin)

12- E. Pooley, The Climate War: True Believers, Power Brokers, and the Fight to Save the Earth, Hyperion 2010

13 -D. Archer, The Warming Papers: The Scientific Foundation for the Climate Change Forecast, Wiley – Blackwell 2011 (Christine)

14 – The whale and the supercomputer (Eric)

Recommended books:

- P. N. Edwards, A Vast Machine: Computer Models, Climate Data, and the Politics of Global Warming (Infrastructures), the MIT press 2010 (Tri)

- B. McKibben – Eaarth, St. Martin’s Griffin- 2011

- A. Campbell Keller, Science in Environmental Policy: The Politics of Objective Advice (Politics, Science, and the Environment), the MIT Press 2009

- Rodger Fleming, Historical Perspectives on Climate Change, Oxford University Press, 1998

- P. Hawken, Natural Capitalism: Creating the Next Industrial Revolution, Back Bay Books, 2008

Suggested books:

- P. N. Edwards, A Vast Machine: Computer Models, Climate Data, and the Politics of Global Warming (Infrastructures), the MIT press 2010

-D. Archer, The Warming Papers: The Scientific Foundation for the Climate Change Forecast, Wiley – Blackwell 2011

- R. Pielke Jr. - The Climate Fix: What Scientists and Politicians Won't Tell You About Global Warming, Basic Books, 2010

- J. Hansen – Storm of my Grandchildren, Bloomsbury, 2009

- L. Smith – The world in 2050, Plume, 2011 (Gerry)

- M. Mann, The hockey sticks and the climate wars, Columbia 2012

- M. Bowen, Censoring Science, Dutton, 2008

- M. Oppenheimer and R. H. Boyle – Dead Heat Basic Books - 1990

- G. Schmidt and J. Wolfe – Climate Change

- H. Pollack – A World without ice, Avery 2010

Student’s proposed books

The hockey stick illusion – (Dan)

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Every week all students will be assigned readings iconReadings: a reader will be made available at Associated Students, ucsb

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Every week all students will be assigned readings iconEach edition and variation (with the exception of reprints) of a book is assigned an isbn. The Isbn is 13-digits long if assigned after January 1, 2007 and

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