Global climate change – vulnerability and resilience

1. Causes of global climate change

How natural and human processes affect the global energy balance

The atmospheric system, including the natural greenhouse effect and energy balance (incoming shortwave radiation and outgoing longwave radiation)

Changes in the global energy balance, and the role of feedback loops, resulting from:

  • solar radiation variations, including global dimming due to volcanic eruptions
  • terrestrial albedo changes and feedback loops
  • methane gas release and feedback loops

The enhanced greenhouse effect and international variations in greenhouse gas sources and emissions, in relation to economic development, globalization and trade

Synthesis, evaluation and skills opportunities

The complexity of the dynamic climate system and the spatial interactions of different processes and feedback mechanisms

2. Consequences of global climate change

The effects of global climate change on places, societies and environmental systems

Climate change and the hydrosphere, atmosphere and biosphere, including:

  • water stored in ice and oceans, and changing sea levels
  • carbon stored in ice, oceans and the biosphere
  • incidence and severity of extreme weather events, including drought
  • spatial changes in biomes, habitats and animal migration patterns
  • changes to agriculture, including crop yields, limits of cultivation, soil erosion

Impacts of climate change on people and places, including health hazards, migration and ocean transport routes

Synthesis, evaluation and skills opportunities

The uneven spatial distribution of effects and uncertainty about their timing, scale and impacts for individuals and societies

3. Responding to global climate change

Possibilities for responding to climate change and power over the decision-making process

Disparities in exposure to climate change risk and vulnerability, including variations in people’s location, wealth, social differences (age, gender, education), risk perception

  • Detailed examples of two or more societies with contrasting vulnerability

Government-led adaptation and mitigation strategies for global climate change:

  • global geopolitical efforts, recognizing that the source/s of greenhouse gas emissions may be spatially distant from the countries most impacted
  • carbon emissions offsetting and trading
  • technology, including geo-engineering

Civil society and corporate strategies to address global climate change

  • Case study of the response to climate change in one country focusing on the actions of non-governmental stakeholders

Synthesis, evaluation and skills opportunities

Why perspectives and viewpoints may be different about the need for, practicality and urgency of action on global climate change