TMN QuickLinks: Five Powerful Climate Change Lessons for A Very Important Earth Science Week October 11-17, 2009

 Posted by DrJeff on October 11th, 2009

 Copyright 2009  |  About this blog


EarthFromSpace_2560x1024Photo Caption: The Sun setting over the Pacific and a towering thundercloud, July 21, 2003 as seen from the International Space Station (Expedition 7). Click on the image and explore your world close-up using the scroll bars. The time to protect it is at hand.

This is a Teachable Moments in the News QuickLinks Post. It connects a news story with this Blog’s existing powerful library of Posts and Resource Pages. The cited Posts and Pages provide a deep understanding of concepts in the earth and space sciences relevant to the news story. Teachers—the Posts and Pages are also designed for use as lessons, allowing you to easily bring current science into the classroom as a teachable moment. Each cited Post is outlined in the Teachers Lesson Planner, which includes the Post’s essential questions, concepts, objectives, and math skills.



Earth Science Week takes on a rather unique importance in 2009. This year’s theme is Understanding Climate. On December 7-18. 2009, the entire world will meet in Copenhagen for the United Nations Climate Change Conference, to hammer out the next international agreement on climate change and put in place new targets for greenhouse gas emissions. It may be humanity’s last opportunity to craft an agreement—AND get it ratified by the world’s nations—before the Kyoto Protocol of 1997 (and in force in 2005) expires in 2012. This seems to me to be a very big deal for the future of this planet, particularly in light of the latest projections for the impact of global warming—which indicate we need to act NOW or face irreversible consequences (see CNN, March 12, 2009)—and Copenhagen is the venue for that action.


The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has now issued 4 Reports, the last issued February 2, 2007:


On Feb. 2, 2007, the United Nations scientific panel studying climate change declared that the evidence of a warming trend is “unequivocal,” and that human activity has “very likely” been the driving force in that change over the last 50 years.

New York Times, October 11, 2009


If we allow things to continue unchanged and we don’t take action today, it would destabilize human society.

—Rajendra Pachaurihead, Head of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), “Climate chief warns against ‘Tragic’ inaction”, CNN, August 21, 2008

Here are some relevant links:

Findings of the UN IPCC Fourth Assessment Report, see Union of Concerned Scientists, February 16, 2007


June 16, 2009 White  House Report Global Climate Change Impacts the United States: coverage by USAToday (‘Game Changer’),  CBS (White House Sounds Alarm), CNN (Report Warns of Cimate Change Effects), ABC (US Climate Report Dire)


Assessment by U.S. Department of Defense on U.S. National Security, and on the grave scenarios that can play out from global warming: New York Times (August 8, 2009)


My point is that over the next few months, the world faces a unique and seminally important moment in time, and Earth Science Week 2009 should serve as a timely catalyst for education in the US. HERE is the countdown clock to Copenhagen.


To date I’ve created 5 Posts at Blog on the Universe—5 powerful lessons—on climate change and global warming that I’d like to share with you as resources to use in classrooms and in discussions at home this coming week.


First, what is Earth Science Week?


From the American Geological Institute website:

Since October 1998, the American Geological Institute has organized this national and international event to help the public gain a better understanding and appreciation for the Earth Sciences and to encourage stewardship of the Earth. This year’s Earth Science Week will be held from October 11-17 and will celebrate the theme “Understanding Climate.”


From the Geological Society of America website:

Earth Science Week, the second full week in October, is an annual celebration of the contribution geoscience makes to society. The resolution to establish Earth Science Week was initiated by the Association of American State Geologists and was read into the Congressional Record in July 1998 by Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon.


GSA urges each of you to set aside at least one day during Earth Science Week to reach out to your community and promote the creation of a conscientious society committed to the responsible use of Earth and its resources.


From the NASA website:

The theme of this year’s Earth Science Week — “Understanding Climate” — promotes scientific understanding of a timely and vital topic: Earth’s climate.


The BotU Posts on Global Warming, Climate Change, and the Earth Environment

Below are the 5 powerful climate change lessons at Blog on the Universe. For each, I’ve provided the title, the essential question(s), and the conclusion relative to climate change and global warming. The information below is excerpted directly from the BotU Teachers Lesson Planner, which also includes for each Post, the key concepts addressed, lesson objectives, math skills required, and any special features of the Post. I invite you to get a cup of coffee or tea, go to the Lesson Planner, and from their explore these lessons.


The Business Trip 2009-05-19

Essential questions: How far is ‘Outer Space’? What does this imply for the thickness of Earth’s atmosphere?

Climate change point: we do not live under an ocean of air, but rather a slender fragile veil of atmosphere.

Apples and You 2009-05-21

Essential question: How thick is Earth’s atmosphere?

Climate change point: you can make a simple model that shows how thin the atmospheric layer is surrounding Earth, and it is shockingly thin. This model provides a new perspective on rhe atmosphere’s fragility, and the need to protect it.

Weekly Challenge 1: A Pound of Ants and the Capabilities of Intelligent Biomass 2009-05-26

Essential question: If humans are changing the environment on a global scale, then you might think the planet is overrun with people, and the human race must take up a lot of space. Does it? What can we learn from the answer?

Climate change point: the total volume of the human race is shockingly small. It is human technology that is changing the environment, which is the fundamental argument for a scientifically literate public that can make informed decisions about technology use.

Weekly Challenge 2: People People Everywhere 2009-06-02

Essential questions: How fast is the human population growing? What are the consequences?

Climate change point: world population is growing at a stunning rate, and the needs of increasing populations put severe stress on available resouces and services—particularly in the age of global warming.

A Day in the Life of the Earth: Understanding Human-Induced Climate Change 2009-06-13

Essential Question: What is the basic argument for Global Warming due to human activity?

Climate change point: global warming has the signature of a catastrophic event, and the introduction of  human technology on a global scale appears to be the source in plain sight.

From Dr. James Hansen, Director of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies concerning this post—

Public understanding of climate change depends on an understanding of time scales. Goldstein [Dr. Jeff] does a brilliant job of making clear the rapidity of the human-made intervention in the climate system, and the correlation of global warming with the appearance of technology powered by fossil fuels.



Photocredit: Image Science and Analysis Laboratory, NASA-Johnson Space Center.


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One Response to “TMN QuickLinks: Five Powerful Climate Change Lessons for A Very Important Earth Science Week October 11-17, 2009”

  1. Green Girl Says:
    February 15th, 2010 at 3:38 am

    Global Warming and Climate Change is the biggest environmental issue that we face these days. the long term effects of these environmental changes to a nations economy is quite damaging. there would be a shortage in food supply as well as on water supply too ….