Title Fiat Lux: Global Climate Change and Societal Response
Units 1 units
Course Days Thursday
Time 2:00 PM - 3:15 PM
Location Geology 3645
Level Undergraduate
Course ID 411057201
Type Seminar



SCIENCES 19—Seminar 2


Geology 3645; Thursday 2:00—3:15 p.m.


Professor William I. Newman, 4640 Geology

X5-3912; win@ucla.edu

Office Hours: T 2:00 P.M.; F 3:00 P.M. and by appointment


The scientific community has established with a remarkable degree of agreement that global climate change is presently taking place at an unprecedented rate and caused primarily by human activity. Carbon dioxide produced by homo sapiens, in particular, as a product of fossil fuel burning has fundamentally altered our planet's atmospheric processes. Prior to the industrial revolution, naturally occurring carbon dioxide by means of greenhouse effect helped raise the temperature of our environment by nearly 60°. (Greenhouse effect is the cause underlying why the interior of a car with windows closed has its temperature rise when in sunlight.) Since then, humans have increased the quantity of carbon dioxide in atmosphere by more than a third. Exploration of gamut of human (anthropogenic) influences upon environment and outcomes that can be expected in our lifetime. Students discuss effects on society, and each student provides a presentation detailing one societal aspect


We will employ select readings from several books and, possibly, other sources as they become available. The books have been selected to be understandable by non-scientists and do not employ significant mathematics (although some quantitative reasoning will be required for addressing the global and human energy budgets). The books include: M.E. Mann and L.R. Kump 2009. Dire Predictions: Understanding Global Warming, London: Pearson Education.

G. Schmidt and J. Wolfe 2009. Climate Change: Picturing the Science, New York: W.W. Norton & Company.

B. Richter 2010. Beyond Smoke and Mirrors: Climate Change and Energy in the 21st Century, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

D.J.C. MacKay 2009. Sustainable Energy—without the Hot Air, Cambridge England: UIT Cambridge. (available from http://www.withouthotair.com/ in PDF form without charge; the other two texts are approximately $20 apiece)


Professor Newman has performed research in a number of fields including the atmospheres and environments of the Earth and planets. His research related to this seminar relates to the nature of the greenhouse effect and the effect of different atmospheric constituents, the nature of clouds and how they influence radiation, and the emergence of record-breaking statistics in temperatures measured on Earth. He is currently teaching EPSS 13 "Natural Disasters," a course he created to address the need for UCLA students to be better aware of the Earth and the dynamic forces that shape its evolution.


Grading for this course will be on a P/NP basis. Students are expected to attend all ten lectures/presentations. (A maximum of two absences will be permitted; attendance will be taken, as required for Fiat Lux seminars.) Further, each student will be expected to present a 15 minute presentation (PowerPoint or PDF slides), plus a 2-page summary handout, during the latter half of the course. The presentation topic should be cleared with Professor Newman during office hours before February 5