Dr. Jeff Niemitz, Earth Science

Outcomes of Valley & Ridge Goes to China

Now having a second look at many of the places visited last summer (2013) plus several new and relevant experiences from this year I have a very good idea of how I will integrate the China experience into my Global Climate Change classes.  In the fall 2014 Global Climate change will be taught as a Climate Mosaic to Peru for the COP 20 UNFCCC climate conference and in spring 2015 as a new version of our introductory course in Earth History with climate change as the overriding theme.

I see both courses benefiting from a substantial case study including: 1) Chinese climate change over time (i.e. a lab on changes in East Asian monsoons using appropriate proxies and instrumental records and the unintended consequences) and 2) its effects on water supply, agriculture, and alternative energy in China integrated with the development of Chinese infrastructure and governmental policies for employment and job creation as a producer of carbon emissions.  A second case study on climate change effects in Africa will allow students to compare and contrast; i.e., China as the perpetrator of climate change (largest global emitter; environmental degradation starting millennia ago) through prolonged and recent more rapid development and Africa as the victim of climate change and consequently in need of immediate adaptation strategies.

Is sustainable development truly an oxymoron in China? And if not what has to happen to make sustainable development a reality?  Conversely is Africa doomed to the effects of climate change or can it adapt to it and also develop?  In a larger sense what will the “haves” have to do to allow the “have nots” to survive the coming climate change effects?

I anticipate that some of these questions will be approached more fully in the Mosaic and that will help frame the questions better for the intro class.