Responding to global climate change
Climate change is a pressing contemporary policy problem. The topic is explored under four main headings:
- the evidence that scientists have gathered from a variety of sources to show how climate has changed in the past and why current changes provide evidence for the impact of human activities
- the way that scientists have developed dynamic models to see how well the science can account for past changes in climate and to make projections about the future
- the impacts of climate change and their implications for the natural environment and human society.
- policy responses to climate change across the world taking into account economic as well as technical issues and exploring whether or not it is appropriate to adopt a precautionary approach.
In this topic the science explanations are used to show how it is that human activities can change the climate globally. The key ideas are:
- the cycling of elements between the Earth’s spheres
- the natural and human-induced processes that affect the carbon cycle such as the burning of fossil fuels
- the properties of electromagnetic radiation and the interactions of the radiations from the Sun and the Earth’s surface on the atmosphere.
How science works
There are four main areas of how science works covered in this topic:
- the way in which scientific explanations develop and are tested
- the use of dynamic models to test explanations and make predictions
- the collaborative nature of international science, and the validation of scientific explanations leading to consensus
- evidence-based policy making under conditions of uncertainty.