GOG 504 Energy, Environment, and Climate Change

 This course addresses the response of the global environment to rising energy consumption by human civilization. The structure of this course reflects on the premise that energy consumption and climate change are inherently-connected issues requiring a holistic study approach. The course consists of two parts. The first part of the course deals with climate change and fossil fuel use. The second part addresses the issue of alternative sources of power with lower impact on climate and environment than traditional fossil fuels. We begin the first part with review of recent changes in global climate and historic trends in fossil fuel consumption. We discuss impact of climate change and combustion of fossil fuel on environment and study of geoengineering projects that can mitigate global warming and its negative consequences. The second part of the course starts with review of scientific principles required to better understand basics of energy transformations. Then, these principles are used through the reaming part of the course to research alternative power sources including nuclear, solar, wind, hydropower, geothermal, biofuels and hydrogen. We use this research to derive quantitative estimates of potential scale at which power can be generated from alternative sources as well as to estimate their impact on environment and economy. Obtained estimates will be linked to policy issues related to climate change and power generation. We end this course with presentations and discussion of individual research projects in the field of geoengineering and generation of alternative energy. Prerequisite(s): At least 6 credits in undergraduate science courses.