The Global Warming Paradox

Course Description

This seminar will focus on the complex climate challenges posed by the substantial benefits of energy consumption. Well-being varies strongly with energy consumption, resulting in an enormous gap between low- and high-consuming populations. This energy poverty creates tremendous exposure to climate-related stresses such as droughts, floods, heat waves, and intense storms. The fact that pathways for closing the energy gap are likely to result in substantial climate changes, via the emission of greenhouse gases (GHGs), also creates critical tensions between development priorities and climate policies. For example, one paradox is that apparently the most attainable means for an impoverished individual or country to decrease its aggregate climate stress is to increase the release of GHGs to the atmosphere. Our discussions will be focused on exploration of what is currently known and not known about Earth's climate system and its interactions with human activities, including Earth's energy balance; detection and attribution of climate change; impacts of climate change on natural and human systems; and proposed methods for curbing further climate change. These topics cut across a broad range of traditional disciplines. Our primary format will be facilitated discussion and shared writing, supplemented by reading and presentation of recent articles as well as current research results. Breaking media coverage of relevant papers will also be dissected.

Course Details

Stanford Introductory Seminars are small, discussion-based classes. Therefore, enrollment is limited. Preference is given to rising Stanford first- and second-year students who haven't had the opportunity to take an Introductory Seminar previously. A portion of seats are open to students participating in Summer Session. Interested students may self-enroll in Axess whenever there is an open space.

Syllabus Link

None available.
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