I’ve been invited to give a guest seminar to the Dynamics of Global Change core course, which is being run this year by Prof Robert Vipond, of the Munk School of Global Affairs. The course is an inter-disciplinary exploration of globalization (and especially global capitalism) as a transformative change to the world we live in. (One of the core texts is Jan Aart Scholte’s Globalization: A Critical Introduction).
My guest seminar, which I’ve titled “Climate Change as a Global Challenge“, comes near the middle of the course, among a series of different aspects of globalization, including international relations, global mortality, humanitarianism, and human security. I had to provide some readings for the students, and had an interesting time whittling it down to a manageable set (they’ll only get 1 week in which to read them). Here’s what I came up with, and some rationale for why I picked them:
- Kartha S, Siebert CK, Mathur R, et al. A Copenhagen Prognosis: Towards a Safe Climate Future.
I picked this as a short (12 page) overview of the latest science and policy challenges. I was going to use the much longer Copenhagen Diagnosis, but at 64 pages, I thought it was probably a bit much, and anyway, it’s missing the discussion about emissions allocations (see fig 11 of the Prognosis report), which is a nice tie in to the globalization and international politics themes of the course…
- Rockström J, Steffen W, Noone K, et al. A Safe Operating Space for Humanity. Nature. 2009;461(7263):472–475.
This one’s very short (4 pages) and gives a great overview of the concept of planetary boundaries. It also connects up climate change with a set of related boundary challenges. And it’s rapidly become a classic.
- Müller P. Constructing climate knowledge with computer models. Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Climate Change. 2010.
A little long, but it’s one of the best overviews of the role of modeling in climate science that I’ve ever seen. As part of the aim of the course is to examine the theoretical perspectives and methodologies of different disciplines, I want to spend some time in the seminar talking about what’s in a climate model, and how they’re used. I picked Müller over and above another great paper, Moss et al on the next generation of scenarios, which is an excellent discussion of how scenarios are developed and used. However, I think Müller is a little more readable, and covers more aspects of the modeling process.
- Jamieson D. The Moral and Political Challenges of Climate Change. In: Moser SC, Dilling L, eds. Creating A Climate for Change. Cambridge University Press; 2006:475-482.
Nice short, readable piece on climate ethics, as an introduction to issues of equity and international justice…
So that’s the readings. What do you all think of my choice?
I had to sacrifice another set of readings I’d picked out on Systems Thinking and Cybernetics, for which I was hoping to use at least the first chapter of Donella Meadows’ book, because it offers another perspective on how to link up global problems and our understanding of the climate system. But that will have to wait for a future seminar…