Human Dimensions of Global Warming

Lesson 1 - Introduction to the Human Dimensions of Climate Change



Did you complete the Course Orientation? Before you begin this course, make sure you have completed the Course Orientation (see the Course Orientation menu). You'll need to read over this material carefully and then successfully complete a quiz on it in Canvas to unlock full functionality of the course.


The scientific consensus demonstrates that climate change in the 21st century is essentially a human problem. People are causing climate change through their everyday actions and through the socioeconomic forces underlying those actions. At the same time, people are feeling the consequences of climate change through various impacts on things they value and through the responses they are making to address climate change.

left: smokestacks and billowing smoke. right: a woman carrying water in Sunderbans
These two pictures from the Web denote the two basic aspects of the human dimensions of climate change: (left) the human causes of climate change—in this case, emissions of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere from coal-fired power generation plants; (right) the human impacts of climate change—in this case, environmental refugees fleeing an area of severe drought.

In this first lesson, we introduce the human dimensions of climate change by digging more deeply into its causes and consequences. First, however, we develop a framework for understanding the relationships between humans and climate. We also present the various scales of space and time involved in the human dimensions of climate change.

What will we learn?

By the end of this lesson, you should be able to:

  • explain what the climate system is;
  • explain what we mean by the human causes of climate change;
  • explain what we mean by the human consequences of climate change;
  • define and differentiate between key terms related to the human dimensions of climate change
  • discuss how reasons for concern about climate change risks are increasing.

What is due for Lesson 1?

Lesson 1 will take us one week to complete. Please refer to the Calendar in ANGEL for specific time frames and due dates. Specific directions for the assignment below can be found within this lesson.

Lesson 1 Assignments
Activity Access/Directions
Work through Lesson 1. This is the first page of the Lesson 1 content.

Complete the Lesson 1 Reading Assignment(s).


The Reading Assignment page of this lesson describes the reading assignment.

Complete your discussion posts.

The Discussion page of this lesson describes the Lesson 1 discussion prompt. In Piazza, respond to the Lesson 1 discussion prompt.


Finish the Lesson 1 Writing Assignment. The Writing Assignment page of this lesson describes the writing assignment. Submit your first, edited (using Track Changes), and final drafts as one Word document in the Lesson 1 dropbox in ANGEL.
Complete Orientation Tasks.

Refer to the Orientation section of this course to complete the following:

  • course orientation quiz
  • reply to initial course e-mail
  • initial post introducing yourself to the class


If you have any questions now or at any point during this week, please feel free to post them to the "lesson_1" folder in Piazza. We will check daily to respond. (To access the forums, select the PIAZZA link. Once in Piazza, you can navigate to the "lesson_1" folder to post your question.) While you are there, feel free to post your own responses if you, too, are able to help a classmate.