Introductory Meteorology

Lesson 10. The Human Impact on Weather and Climate


smoke stacks emitting pollution
One factor in man-made climate change is believed to be emissions of carbon dioxide from the burning of fossil fuels.

What do you think of when you hear about the debate over global climate change? Perhaps you don't see it as a debate any more. Perhaps you feel that it's a dire issue that needs immediate attention. Perhaps you feel that there are too many political and ideological agendas tainting the scientific questions that need to be answered. Whatever your opinion, I think that most people would agree on the importance of the debate and making wise decisions concerning our future as stewards of our planet. So, what is to be done then? How can we make wise decisions and encourage our representatives to make wise decisions? I believe that the first step is education. Although we don't need to become experts in the topics that govern climate change, we need to understand something about the underlying physics of climate change, the questions currently being asked by researchers, as well as some of the challenges that scientists face when trying to answer these questions.

In this lesson, we will be looking at these three issues: You will start by learning some of the basics of climate change such as enhanced greenhouse effect (global warming), volcanic aerosol production in the stratosphere, chlorofluorocarbons and the ozone hole; computer modeling of global climate; and the urban heat island effect. Rest assured that your assessment in this lesson won't be based on opinions about climate change. Instead, it will hinge on your understanding of the science associated with global climate change.

I hope that in the end you will be enriched by this lesson, and learn more about a topic that will likely remain in the forefront of our culture for many years to come. Let's get started....