Human Dimensions of Global Warming

Lesson 1: The Science of Climate Change



Have you completed the Course Orientation in Canvas yet? You'll need to read over the orientation material carefully and then successfully complete a quiz in Canvas to unlock full functionality of the course.

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.

The scientific consensus demonstrates that climate change in the 21st century is 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.

seven pie charts representing the consensus percentages between 93% - 100% depending on study
This graphic denotes the scientific consensus that humans are causing climate change based on several recent studies.  This is adapted from work done by Cook (2016).
Credit: Studies into scientific agreement on human-caused global warming by John Cook from Skeptical Science is licensed under CC By 3.0

In this first lesson, we will explore the science of climate change and look very broadly at causes and consequences. We need to develop a framework for understanding the relationships between humans and climate. Start thinking about the various scales of space and time involved in the human dimensions of climate change.

    What is due for Lesson 1?

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

    Complete the following steps to complete Lesson 1:

    • Work through all Lesson 1 pages on this site.
    • Read the assigned reading,
    • Read the Communicating Science and Citations Writing Workshops.
    • Take the Lesson 1 Content Quiz.
    • Write your Write to Learn response.
    • Complete any remaining Orientation Tasks.


    If you have questions, please feel free to post them to the Ask a Question about Lesson 1 forum. While you are there, feel free to post your own responses if you, too, are able to help a classmate.