Chapter 3.7: Climate Change

Perhaps there is no more far-reaching global environmental issue than climate change.  Anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gases are destabilizing the Earth's climate. A changing climate will likely alter both the Earth's ecosystems and its human societies. While the Earth’s climate has always varied over time, the current rate of change and the nature of these changes are testing the ability of ecosystems, and hence human systems, to adapt. 

Before you start this case study, visit the web sites listed below to review the basics of (1) atmospheric structure and dynamics; (2) the anthropogenic gases that contribute to climate change; and (3) the range of possible impacts that might be expected with a changing climate.

Background Materials :

For background information on atmospheric structure and dynamics, revisit the introductory section of the Air Quality and Atmospheric Science page.

Visit for a basic review of climate change. This
US EPA site has a number of links that cover most aspects of climate change.

Another interesting site that covers the basics and gives some good detail on greenhouse gases is NASA’s website: is a site maintained by the Met Office in the United Kingdom. It has some easy to follow links and some good graphics.

NOAA’s web site has links to sites describing climate change impacts on the US and on NOAA’s climate research initiatives.

Textbook References and Links:

Exercise 3:  World Wildlife Fund’s Giant Panda program 

Exercise 5:  NIH Climate Change and Human Health Program

Exercise 6:  Useful websites on the three species include the following:
Giant Pandas:
African Lions:  and

Exercise 7:

Review article by Revelle
Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI):
British Columbia’s carbon tax:

Exercise 9:  Climate Refugees Documentary:


Downloadable data and files:

Exercise 6:  African_Wildlife-Climate_FULL_REPORT_final.pdf

Exercise 7:  RGGI_Fact_Sheet.pdf  and Carbon-Tax-Fact-Sheet.pdf