EV128: Introduction to Global Climate Change

"Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts."
                                                           Daniel Patrick Moynihan

Course Information

EV 128 is an introduction to the Earth climate system and the processess by which the climate changes. We will explore the impact of climate change on society and ecosystems. We will also discus the role of policy, economics and ethics in mitigating the impact.

This is a quantitative course. One cannot fully understand climate change and its impacts without reasoning quantitatively. Quantitative reasoning (QR) is the application of basic mathematics skills to the analysis and interpretation of quantitative information. This includes the use of arithmetical, algebraic, and geometric methods to solve problems. We will also need to apply mathematics, statistics, and logical reasoning to make inferences based on data. This course meets the Critical Perspectives: Scientific Investigation of the Natural World requirement.


Shane Burns
e-mail: sburns@coloradocollege.edu
Office: 220 Barnes Science Center
Phone: 719-389-6580

My formal office hours are Monday and Wednesday afternoons from 1:30 to 3:30, but if my office door is open (most of the time) I'm available to answer questions. If you have trouble finding me, send me an email and we can arrange for a time to meet.


The text for the course is Introduction to Modern Climate Change, 2nd Ed. by Andrew Dessler. I will also be posting some additional reading on a password protected page.


We’ll meet every morning from 9:00 AM until about noon in Olin 270B. We'll typically start with a quick reading quiz using the iPads assigned to you on the first day of class. These quizzes count for only 5% of your grade. They are intended primarily to give me some idea of the concepts with which you might be having trouble. You will be assigned reading and problems every day. The rest of the class period will be spent discussing the assignment, watching demonstrations, doing short experiments, and talking about what comes next.

Homework Problems

Tentative reading and homework assignments are listed in the course schedule. The problems listed on the schedule are the ones that I consider absolutely essential and except as noted will be the ones assigned grades. We will spend most of each class discussing the text and problems assigned the previous day. Doing the problems is best way to consolidate your understanding of the material.

I expect you to make a serious attempt at the problems before coming to class, but the homework is due after class at 3:00 PM. This will allow you to make corrections to your solutions based on our discussions in class that day.

Work together! I strongly encourage everyone in the class to work together on the homework problems. The class includes me. We will typically have the afternoons free. I’ll do my best to either be in my office or in the classroom every afternoon to help with reading and homework.

Homework solutions will be posted on the course website after 3:00 PM on the day they are due. No credit will be given for late homework without prior approval.


There will be two exams during the block—one mid-block exam and the final exam. The mid-block exam will be given in class. The final exam will be a take-home exam handed out at the end of class on the last Tuesday of the class. You may not work with anyone on the exams. Your work on tests should be entirely your own. I'll ask you to sign the honor code to that effect on each exam.

Course Grades

Reading Quizzes 5%
Homework 15%
In-class Activities 15%
Mid-block exam 25%
Final 40%

NOTE: A better grade on the final exam will replace a lower grade on the mid-block exam.

Honor Code

You will do some activities in groups of two or three, and I hope you will work together on reading and problems as well. Science is a social enterprise and talking out your thoughts with someone else is very useful. You may also consult other books or people that you think will help you. However, it is a violation of the honor code (and very bad strategy) to look up an online solutions manual. And, of course, your work on tests should be entirely your own. I'll ask you to sign the honor code to that effect on each exam. If you have further questions about the honor code ask me or see the Honor Council Website.

Accessibility Resources

If you have a disability and require accommodations for this course, please speak with me privately as soon as possible so that your learning needs may be appropriately met. If you have not already done so, you will need to register with Accessibility Resources, the office responsible for coordinating accommodations and services for students with disabilities.

Religious Observances

If the activities of this class interfere with your religious practice, please let me know IMMEDIATELY so we can work out an alternative.

Diversity Commitment

Colorado College is committed to building and maintaining a more diverse and inclusive institution. I want you to know that I am personally committed to creating an inclusive environment in this course—one that values diversity. However, because of my limited background, I might say or do something that is contrary to that goal. I assure you that if I do this, it is because of my naivete and not on purpose. If I do say something that you find offensive or insensitive, please let me know. I want to learn how to be more sensitive to these issues.