CCOG for G 184 Summer 2024

Course Number:
G 184
Course Title:
Global Climate Change
Credit Hours:
Lecture Hours:
Lecture/Lab Hours:
Lab Hours:

Course Description

Covers characteristics of Earth's climate system. Includes the atmosphere, ocean, biosphere, and solid Earth as well as past, present, and future climate change and future mitigation and adaptation efforts. Prerequisites: WR 115, RD 115 and MTH 20 or equivalent placement test scores. Audit available.

Addendum to Course Description

The purpose of this course is to develop an understanding of Earth's climate system and climate change, including historical perspectives.

Students are expected to be able to read and comprehend college-level science texts and perform basic mathematical operations to successfully complete this course.

Field Based Learning Statement

Earth and space sciences are based on observations, measurements and samples collected in the field. Field-based learning is recommended by numerous professional Geology organizations, including the American Geological Institute and the National Association of Geoscience Teachers. Field-based learning improves both metacognition and spatial/visualization abilities while helping to transfer basic concepts to long-term memory by engaging multiple senses at the same time. Spatial thinking is critical to success in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) disciplines. Field work may include:

  • Developing skills in site characterization
  • Application of key terms and concepts
  • Measurement and data collection
  • Interpretation of data and observations, and fitting them to a larger context

Field work may be physically challenging and may require overland travel on foot or other means to field sites, carrying equipment and supplies, and making measurements in unusual or awkward positions for a length of time.  Field work may include inherent risks (uneven terrain, variable weather, insects, environmental irritants, travel stress, etc.). Field work can be adapted to individual abilities.

Creation Science Statement

Regarding the teaching of basic scientific principles (such as geologic time and the theory of evolution), the Portland Community College Geology/General Science Subject Area Committee  stands by the following statements about what is science.

  • Science is a fundamentally non-dogmatic and self-correcting investigatory process. A scientific theory is neither a guess, dogma, nor myth. The theories developed through scientific investigation are not decided in advance, but can be and often are modified and revised through observation and experimentation.

  • “Creation science,” also known as scientific creationism, is not considered a legitimate science, but a form of religious advocacy. This position is established by legal precedence (Webster v. New Lenox School District #122, 917 F.2d 1004).

  • Geology/General Science instructors at Portland Community College will teach the generally accepted basic geologic principles (such as geologic time and the theory of evolution) not as absolute truth, but as the most widely accepted explanation for our observations of the world around us. Instructors will not teach that “creation science” is anything other than pseudoscience.

  • Because "creation science", "scientific creationism", and "intelligent design" are essentially religious doctrines that are at odds with open scientific inquiry, the Geology/General Sciences SAC at Portland Community College stands with such organizations such as the National Association of Geoscience Teachers, the American Geophysical Union, the Geological Society of America, and the American Geological Institute in excluding these doctrines from our science curriculum.


Intended Outcomes for the course

Upon completion of the course students should be able to:

  1. Explain past, present, and future global climate patterns using an Earth system perspective that includes the atmosphere, hydrosphere, solid earth, and biosphere.
  2. Identify both human and non-human forcings on the climate system and the system response to these forcings including possible feedback mechanisms.  
  3. Use real data to document climate change impacts both globally and in the Pacific Northwest and link these changes to the current scientific understanding of climate change.
  4. Assess the risks posed by climate change, to themselves and society, and evaluate the efficacy of possible responses using scientifically valid methods of inquiry.   

Quantitative Reasoning

Students completing an associate degree at Portland Community College will be able to analyze questions or problems that impact the community and/or environment using quantitative information.

General education philosophy statement

Geology and General Science Courses develop students’ understanding of their natural environment by introducing students to Earth, its processes, and its place in the larger scale of our solar system, galaxy, and the universe. Students learn how: • Earth is related to other terrestrial planets, • Plate tectonics drives volcanism and seismicity, • Surfaces and atmospheres evolve through time, setting the stage for the origin of life as well as mass extinctions, • Earth’s climate has changed via natural astronomical cycles interacting with the earth system’s (atmosphere, hydrosphere, cryosphere, lithosphere, and biosphere) in the past and is changing presently due to anthropogenic causes. Students gain an appreciation for geologic time and the rate of Earth processes and learn the methods used by scientists to observe and study our planet and the universe beyond. Students are introduced to the foundational concepts of how to apply quantitative and qualitative reasoning skills to solve Earth and Space science problems, and they gain an appreciation for the processes that operate at these spatio-temporal scales. Students learn how internal and surficial Earth processes impact society giving them the context to better understand natural hazards, energy and resource distribution, and impact of humans on our habitat to participate in societal discussions and decisions about these topics in a responsible manner.

Aspirational Goals

After taking this course, students should be able to:

  1. Engage in informed reflection about their personal role in Earth’s climate system and make evidence-based decisions on how to react to future climate change.

  2. Become a Climate science literate citizen.

    A Climate-science-literate citizen:

  • understands the essential principles of Earth’s climate system

  • knows how to assess scientifically credible information about climate

  • communicates about climate and climate change in a meaningful way

  • is able to make informed and responsible decisions with regard to actions that may affect climate

    (Supporting concepts from Climate Program Office of NOAA)

Course Activities and Design

The material in this course will be presented in a lecture/discussion format accompanied by laboratory exercises. Other educationally sound methods may be employed such as guest lectures, field trips, research papers, presentations and small group work. 

Outcome Assessment Strategies

The instructor will choose from the following methods of assessment: exams, quizzes, lab exercises, written reports, oral presentations, group projects, class participation, homework assignments, and field trips. The instructor shall detail the methods to be used to the students at the beginning of the course.

Course Content (Themes, Concepts, Issues and Skills)

Explain the nature and history of climate science

Outline basic concepts of systems such as couplings and feedback loops

Discuss the basic physical principles of energy in the Earth system

Discuss the basic structure and dynamics of the solid Earth

Discuss the basic structure and dynamics of Earth’s atmosphere

Discuss the basic structure and dynamics of Earth’s oceans

Discuss the basic structure and dynamics of Earth’s biosphere

Outline the details of nutrient cycles that link the elements of the Earth system

Discuss climate zones on Earth and the factors that shape them

Explain how and why the climate changes on a variety of time scales including long-term climate history and future climate change

Discuss how humans impact climate

Outline the structure of a global climate model and how climate models can be used

Outline Pacific Northwest and global impacts of climate change

Identify how decisions are made globally with respect to climate

Compare and contrast adaptation, mitigation, and geoengineering techniques used to lessen the effects of climate change

Other topics as desired by the instructor