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ff BIOL 4506 - Forests and Global Warming

Class Website
Panel Discussion
Related Links
B. Pokharel's Website

Class meeting

Monday and Wednesday 5:00-6:20 PM (A226)

Course Description

Climate change has emerged as one of the global dominant environmental issues of this generation. A lack of stringent mitigation measures taken by the global community, it is inevitable that global temperatures will increase by 2-30C at the end of this century (IPCC 2007). Although climate change is a global issue, we have witnessed its impacts in our backyard. This course aims to provide students with the critical scientific information and/or evidences to understand the dynamics of the earth's climate system, the natural and anthropogenic causes of climate change, climate projection models and their limitations, the impacts of climate change on society, and the challenges of adaptation and mitigation efforts to combat climate change. A number of case studies related to impacts of climate change on ecological goods and services that forests provide to the society, people's livelihoods and global economy will be discussed. The course will highlight current local, national, regional and international initiatives to adaptation and mitigation to climate change, especially through afforestation, reforestation and sustainable forestry practices, and technological advancement that offers low carbon and/or carbon neutral energy alternatives.

Course Learning Objectives

The course intended to cover wide range of issues in climate change with a special focus on understating the science and politics of climate change with special reference to forest and forestry practices, and ecosystem management. The learning objectives of the courses are:
  • to comprehend the scientific basis of climate change, especially natural and anthropogenic causes of climate change
  • to apprise current scientific position on climate change
  • to evaluate projections made under various climate change scenarios, their associated uncertainties if we do business as usual
  • to learn how to adapt ourselves to the changing climate
  • to build awareness on climate change and what can be done at personal level to reduce carbon footprint
  • to analyze some of the impacts and vulnerability of climate change, especially on ecological goods and services, people's livelihoods and global economy
  • to appreciate various mitigation initiatives undertaken at local, regional and global levels to combat climate change, especially promoting afforestation, reforestation and sustainable forest management, and technological advancement that offers low carbon and/or carbon neutral energy alternatives

Course Resources
- Blackboard (need to login using your Webadvisor ID and Password)
- Website


Required Course Text: There is no required text book for this class.
Recommended Text Book and Materials
  • IPCC. 2007. Climate Change 2007. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)'s Fourth Assessment
  • Report, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, U.K.(http://www.ipcc.ch/index.htm)
  • Houghton, J. 2009. Global Warming: The Complete Briefing. Fourth edition, Cambridge University Press,
  • Cambridge U.K. (ISBN 978-0-521-88256-9
  • Henson, R. 2008. The Rough Guide to Climate Change. Second edition, Rough Guides Ltd., London
  • Ruddiman, W.F. 2008. Earth's Climate: Past and Future. Second edition, W.H. Freeman and Company,
  • New York (ISBN 978-0-7167-8490-6)
  • Check the course website and blackboard for further reading materials

Course Schedule
(PDF Copy of Course Syllabus)

Week 1 (01/07 & 09)
Introduction: Global climate change

Week 2 (01/14 & 16)
Earth Climate: The greenhouse effect, and learning from the Earth's past climate

Week 3 (01/21 & 23)
Indicators of Climate Change: Observations, evidences and indicators of climate change
Watch and critique documentary: An Inconvenient Truth by Al Gore
Demonstration on literature search and citation for individual project
(01/23): (Project title and abstract due)

Week 4 (01/28 & 30)
Skepticism, Myths and Reality of Climate Change: Science based justifications
(01/30): (Panel Led Debate - 2 groups and summary due before the class)
(01/30): (Critique due)

Week 5 (02/04& 06)
Policies and Politics of Greenhouse: Conventions, treaties, negotiations and vested interests among parties
(02/06): (Panel Led Discussion Session and summary due before the class)

Week 6 (02/11 & 13)
Model Simulation: Projected climate change scenarios and their underlying uncertainties
(02/13): Quiz 1

SPRING BREAK (02/18 - 02/22)

Week 8 (02/25)
Impacts and Vulnerability of Climate Change: Impacts of climate change
(Bibliography of individual research project due)
(02/27): (Panel Led Discussion Session and summary due before the class)

Week 9 (03/04 & 06)
Adaptation: How to live with changing climate? A case from forest management on "how to adjust forest management to cope with changing climate
(03/06): (Panel Led Discussion Session and summary due before the class)

Week 10 (03/11 & 13)
Mitigation: Forests and forestry
(03/13): (Panel Led Discussion Session and summary due before the class)

Week 11 (03/18)
Mitigation: Land Use, Land Use Change and Forestry (LULUCF) and Reduction in Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD)
(03/20): (Panel Led Discussion Session and summary due before the class)

Week 12 (03/25 & 27)
Mitigation: Technologies and renewable energy
(03/27): (Panel Led Discussion Session and summary due before the class)
(Individual Research Project Report due)

Week 13 (04/05)
Moving forward: Addressing the complex problem of climate change from local to regional to global scale
(04/08): Quiz 2 and final take home exam (due date TBD)