Possible syllabus for beginner’s Climate Course.

Several times in the last few months I’ve found myself trying to explain some pretty basic concepts of climate to other sceptics. So, I’ve begun wondering what a basic climate course for sceptics would cover, and my initial ideas are below.

  1. Introduction to Climate: what is it, the importance of the sun and how do we measure climate.
  2. Hadley cells, what are they, what causes them and how do they affect climate and ocean currents.
  3. The weather heat-engine.
  4. Lapse rate and layers of the atmosphere
  5. The Greenhouse effect: Earth’s blackbody temperature, the greenhouse temperatures of various theoretical atmospheres and actual planets like Earth, Mars and Venus
  6. The evidence of ice-ages and large-scale temperature change in the ice-cores.
  7. The origin of the theory of large scale positive feedbacks in the climate and its critique.
  8. The theory of the closed atmosphere and the development of the false inference that: “there is no change to the climate except from ‘non-natural’ (i.e. human) influence”.
  9. Natural variation – what is it, what is its characteristics, where does it come from and the complications it creates when attributing a “cause” to phenomenon.
  10. El Ninos, PDOs, AMOs, ocean currents and other large-scale climatic patterns and other short-term climate/long-term regional weather patterns.
  11. Sunspots, solar activity and climate.
  12. What we know and what we don’t about recent trends in climate and any possible causes and future trends.
  13. Effect of Climate & CO2 on living things (e.g. People).
  14. Climate and planet: a long term perspective.

(Note, I don’t necessarily claim to be an expert in all the above areas, but I do think any decent sceptic needs a basic level of knowledge in most of them.)

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2 Responses to Possible syllabus for beginner’s Climate Course.

  1. TinyCO2 says:

    I’d add quality control and forensic level attention to detail rather than the ‘near enough’ approach they seem to follow. They might also benefit from awarness of the costs of acting on CO2 and how poor the solutions are. It might help them appreciate that erring on the side of caution is as bas as the opposite.

  2. Scottish-Sceptic says:

    I agree quality control is a key subject – but the problem isn’t so much a lack of understanding, but instead that there isn’t any. I’ll think about it.

    The costs is also an important issue, but it would come under economics. It would be nice to illustrate this with a total lifetime energy cost for a bird-mincer. I looked extensively for something like that many many years ago and could not find anything. Given the behaviour of academics – and given my belief wind is barely enerconic if at all, I strongly doubt they’ll be anything new.

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