Human Dimensions of Global Warming


Children in Madagascar, a Laplandar with a reindeer, and Ugandans pulling a truck out of floodwaters
These images show individuals in different climates who are vulnerable to global warming. The first image is of children in Madagascar, the second of a Laplander, and the third of individuals in Uganda reacting to flooding.

The human consequences of climate change fall into two categories: impacts and responses. Responses to climate change can take two forms. One is mitigation, which we will address in Lesson 7. The other form of response is adaptation, which tries to reduce or eliminate the impacts of climate change. This lesson will expand on the ideas of impacts, vulnerability to those impacts, and adaptation.

Flowchart of Climate Change see text description below
Figure 3.1: How People Interact with the Climate System.
Click link to expand for a text description of figure 3.1

This is a cyclic flow chart describing how people interact with the climate system.

  • "Climate change" leads to "impacts of climate change".
  • "Impacts of climate change" lead to "responses to climate change".
  • "Responses to climate change" either leads back to
    • "impacts of climate change" (labeled as "Adaptation") or
    • "causes of climate change" (labeled mitigation).
  • "Causes of climate change" leads back to climate change.
Credit: Brent Yarnal. Used with Permission.

What will we learn?

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

  • define impacts of climate change and explain the difference between direct and indirect impacts, giving examples;
  • explain how the same climate change impact can make some people win and other people lose, giving examples;
  • define vulnerability and explain what the three dimensions of vulnerability to climate change impacts are, giving examples;
  • explain what resilience to climate change is;
  • define adaptation to climate change, giving examples;
  • discuss successful adaptations and maladaptations;
  • employ consistency in person and tense to promote coherence in writing.

What is due for Lesson 3?

Lesson 3 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 3:

  • Work through Lesson 3 in this web site.
  • Complete the Required Reading Assignments.
  • Complete the Writing Symposium Quiz in Canvas.
  • Complete your Our Climate Stories in Canvas.
  • Complete the Lesson 3 Reading Reflections in Canvas.
  • Begin working on Unit 1 Exam in Canvas. Read through the essay questions to begin thinking about the responses you will compose next week during the Exam week.
  • Begin working on Unit 1 Reflection in Canvas. Read through the reflection prompt to beging thinking about the response you will compose next week during the Exam week.


If you have questions, please feel free to post them to the Ask a Question about Lesson 3 forum. While you are there, feel free to post your own responses if you, too, are able to help a classmate.