Syllabus and Outlines

Département de Géographie // Department of Geography
Faculté des Arts // Faculty of Arts
Université d’Ottawa // University of Ottawa

COURSE OUTLINE, GEG3321 B (also ENV3321)
Geographical Approaches to Environmental Issues

Professor: Paul H. Beckwith // Building/Room: Minto Sports Complex: SCS E218 Session: Winter 2016
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Session: January 11th to April 12th, 2016

Winter 2016: Two classes each week (mandatory attendance)
Monday morning: 10:00 – 11:30 in SCS E218
Wednesday morning: 08:30 – 10:00 in SCS E218

Professor: Paul H. Beckwith, Bachelor of Engineering (B.Eng. in Engineering Physics), Master of Science (M. Sc. in Laser Physics)
Office: Simard Hall sub-basement, NOT Café Alt stairway, SMD0021C
Facebook: Paul Beckwith, Twitter: @PaulHBeckwith,
Email: pbeck062@uottawa.ca

Course Facebook page:
GEG/ENV 3321 B

Office hours: Simard sub-basement: SMD0021C (1 hour at end of class on Mondays; 1 hour at end of class Wednesdays) and also whenever you need; please email me for an appointment, or just try knocking on my office door)

Teaching Assistant: Omar Bani-Taha
Email: obani045@uottawa.ca
Office hours: flexible, please email
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Course description: GEG/ENV 3321 B: Geographical Approaches to Environmental Issues

The integrated contribution of physical and human geography to the study of environmental issues at a variety of spatial and temporal scales. Success and failure in human adaptive strategies and environmental public policy.

Online materials like papers, reports, news links, and websites used extensively.  Suggested textbook for inspiration: “Global Chorus: 365 voices on the future of the planet”, Edited by Todd Maclean, Publisher: Rocky Mountain Books.  Other good books (optional) mentioned throughout course.

Some great websites:  Earth climate/weather info:   http://earth.nullschool.net/.  There are many others:  Climate Reanalyzerthese are for weather and Arctic sea iceClimate: WundergroundClimate ProgressSkeptical ScienceReal ClimateAccuweatherThe Weather NetworkUnisys WeatherEnvironment Canada.

Course evaluation:  Nine Exercises x 4% each (36%)
Midterm 1 (17%), Midterm 2 (17%), Final exam (30%)

Classes: Attendance is Mandatory

Date Class Topics

Mon Jan 11, 1 Introduction
What environmental issues are you most worried about?
Overview – Syllabus
How to do the Exercises

Wed Jan 13, 2 Rapid climate system changes
Arctic darkening causing temperature amplification
Jet stream changes and extreme weather events
Ocean changes, Methane (wildcard of climate system)

Mon Jan 18, 3 Exercise #1 is due (4%)
Linear versus nonlinear (abrupt) changes
Is abrupt climate change occurring?
Risks, Precautionary Principle

Wed Jan 20, 4 Climate change impacts (i.e. sea level rise, heat stress)
Global food supply, droughts, flooding
Human health, Species biodiversity, migrations, extinctions
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)

Mon Jan 25, 5 Exercise #2 is due (4%)
Conference of Parties (COP21) in Paris, France, policies
IPCC Assessment Report 5 (AR5)
Adaptation, Mitigation
Global Chorus: 365 voices on the future of the planet

Wed Jan 27,6 Climate change solutions, are there any?
Carbon Fee-and-Dividend, Carbon Cap-and-Trade
Zeroing emissions, timeframes, risks
Three-legged barstool metaphor

Mon Feb 1 ,7 Exercise #3 is due (4%)
Geoengineering concepts possible/necessary?
(a) Carbon Dioxide Removal (CDR)
(b) Solar Radiation Management (SRM)

Wed Feb 3,8 Infrastructure damage (cities, roads, railroads, pipelines)
Human migration (sea level rise, desertification, food stress)
Ocean changes (Sea Surface Temperature (SST) rise and
Ocean acidification, dead zones, plastics in gyres, plankton)

Mon Feb 8 ,9 Surface air pollution (ground level ozone, smog, particulates)
Urban pollution, Urban Heat Island (UHI) effects
“Elephant in the room” Global population growth/fertility rates
Human psychology of climate change (denial vs skepticism)

Wed Feb 10, 10 Midterm #1 (17% of final grade)
Economic system, Capitalism, GDP, growth paradign
Capital Markets, banks, countries
Stock Markets, incentives, subsidies
Mon Feb 15 Reading Week: No classes
Wed Feb 17 Reading Week: No classes

Mon Feb 22, 11 Exercise #4 is Due (4%)
Democratic systems, politics, lobbyists
Power structures

Wed Feb 24, 12 Human impacts
Vector borne diseases, pandemics, epidemics
Fresh water hydrology, rivers, floodplains, droughts

Mon Feb 29, 13 Exercise #5 is Due (4%)
Transportation systems, electric cars, trains, ships, aircraft
Electrical power grid stability, capacity, storage
Renewable energy (solar, wind), Nuclear energy?

Wed Mar 2, 14 Zooming in from global issues to local issues
Solutions, grassroots initiatives

Mon Mar 7, 15 Exercise #6 is Due (4%)
Energy efficiency methods, low and high tech
Short “termism” versus long term sustainability
Social “tipping points” are possible

Wed Mar 9, 16 The “dark passengers” of humanity (ala “Dexter”)
Resource wars, nuclear war or accidents
Militarization of police, social unrest
Poverty, human rights

Mon Mar 14, 17 Exercise #7 is Due (4%)
Social inequalities, winners and losers
Is Near Term Human Extinction (NTHE) possible?
Can we even talk about this nasty stuff?
Wed Mar 16 18 Mass migrations
Food supply, water supply

Mon Mar 21, 19 Vertical farming, societal resilience
“Being smarter”, or rather, “Being less dumb”.

Wed Mar 23, 20 Midterm 2 (17% of final mark)

Mon Mar 28, Easter Break (no class)

Wed Mar 30, 21 Exercise #8 is Due (4%)
Optimism moving forward
Lots of issues
Solutions

Mon Apr 4, 22 New technology
Sustainable retreat
Changing values
Retooling society

Wed Apr 6, 23 Exercise #9 is Due (4%)
What have we learned?
Overall ranking of environmental issues
Planetary boundaries

Mon Apr 11, 24 Final exam format; How to prepare/study
Moving forward
Careers, jobs, skills, learning, life…

Final exam (30%): on all course material – date/time set by the university

NOTE: Facebook page for course; GEG/ENV 3321 B is a great way to communicate; TA/professor will check it frequently so responses to your questions will be quickest; someone else may have already asked your question and had it answered…

University of Ottawa: Student Academic Success Service (SASS)
Counselling, coaching, mentoring, writing help, access service (for exam writing), career development center: http://sass.uottawa.ca/en

Read “Beware of plagiarism” available at: http://www.uottawa.ca/plagiarism.pdf
http://web5.uottawa.ca/admingov/regulation_13.html

University of Ottawa Library

How to do the weekly Exercises (4% each):

1) Pick an environmental issue. Not too broad, but it could be something like “Extreme weather events”. Narrower would be “Torrential flooding event in Calgary, Alberta in summer of 2013”.

2) Research this issue online, look for reputable blogs, websites, peer-reviewed papers if available, reports from Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs), etc.

3) Analyze this event; try to connect the local scale to the global scale.

4) Consider solutions, if any to minimize effects on people in the future, or prevent event from happening in first place.

5) Write up short summary report (Maximum length 2 pages of writing, plus up to 1 or 2 additional pages of images containing some of maps from Google Earth, plots, schematics from web, images). MAPS are very important to use in Geography courses!

6) Must provide references for source material

Hand-in format: No title page please.

Cut and paste text below to start your report.
Hand in printed copy each week (to be marked out of 10)

Exercise #n Date: ddddd
Name: xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Student number: yyyyyyy

Title: Cities with highest levels of surface air pollution on Earth.

Environmental Issue: describe the problem, is it ongoing or a one-of event, how does it affect people and how many people, what spatial scale and temporal scales are involved, how serious is the problem

Research and analysis: study/analyze the problem, remember this is Geography 🙂, try to get data or information on problem, elaborate on issue, you could plot some data in Excel, put in a map that you generate from Google Earth, obtain some meteorological data from some of links given in syllabus or your own. Synthesize your material from various sources, use references, etc…

Discussion: In your own words, describe what you have found out from your research and analysis of the problem. Make some conclusions about how serious the issue really is, and suggest ways that further research could be done, etc…

Conclusions: In 2 or 3 lines maximum, summarize the key thing you found or did

Sources: Provide website links, article links, sources of diagrams, maps, plots, etc…

Learning: In a few lines, describe what you learned from this Exercise, possibly including new skills learned, what you did not know before, what surprised you, etc.

GEG3321_syllabus_Winter_2016_ENV3321.doc (cloud)
GEG3321_syllabus_Winter_2016_ENV3321.doc (download)
———- ———-

COURSE PROPOSAL, GEG 2304 // Spring 2016?

Title of Mini-Course:  Climate change, extreme weather and the effects on humanity:  ‘Climate change (global warming) is happening today, affecting lives everywhere on the Earth. Arctic warming is much faster than the global average, changing heat movement in oceans and atmosphere affecting global weather. Extremes like torrential rain causing floods are more common, with storms becoming larger and stronger and occurring in new places.’

Course Proposal Paul Beckwith (cloud)
Course Proposal Paul Beckwith (download, PDF)
———- ———-

COURSE OUTLINE, GEG 3300 B // Spring 2015

Course description: Selected Topics in Physical Geography:
Global Ocean Changes:  ‘Our global oceans are rapidly undergoing many physical changes, including but not limited to warming, stratification, acidification, changing ocean currents, loss of flora and fauna, increased pollution, increased number and intensity of dead zones, and changing salinity and sea ice levels. This course examines these ocean changes in the context of ongoing and rapid climate system changes. A solid understanding of oceanography is also developed (taught) in this course.’

GEG3300_syllabus_Spring_2015_f2.doc (cloud)
GEG3300_syllabus_Spring_2015_f2 (download)
———- ———-

COURSE OUTLINE, EMCP // Spring 2015

Course description: Climate change, extreme weather and the effects on humanity:  ‘Climate change (global warming) is happening today, affecting lives everywhere on the Earth. Arctic warming is much faster than the global average, changing heat movement in oceans and atmosphere affecting global weather. Extremes like torrential rain causing floods are more common, with storms becoming larger and stronger and occurring in new places.’

EMCP_climate_change_Spring_2015_f.doc (cloud)
EMCP_climate_change_Spring_2015_f (download)
———- ———-

COURSE OUTLINE, GEG/ENV 3321 B // Winter 2015

Course description: Geographical Approaches to Environmental Issues:  ‘The integrated contribution of physical and human geography to the study of environmental issues at a variety of spatial and temporal scales. Success and failure in human adaptive strategies and environmental public policy.’

GEG3321_syllabus_Winter_2015_f2.doc (cloud)
GEG3321_syllabus_Winter_2015_f2.doc (download)
———- ———-

COURSE PROPOSAL, GEG/ENV 3321 B // Winter 2016

Course description: Geographical Approaches to Environmental Issues: ‘The integrated contribution of physical and human geography to the study of environmental issues at a variety of spatial and temporal scales. Success and failure in human adaptive strategies and environmental public policy.’

Similar to above.  Cloud version will be provided in December.
Similarly, downloadable PDF or word doc will be provided in December.
———- ———-

COURSE OUTLINE, GEG 2304 // Fall 2014

Course description: Climatology: The climate system. Energy balance, atmospheric dynamics and resulting weather conditions. The general circulation, mid-latitude and tropical climates. Climate change in the past and present. Course includes laboratory and field work.’

GEG2304_syllabus_Fall_2014.doc (cloud)
GEG2304_syllabus_Fall_2014 (download)
———- ———-

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