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Ecosystems: Human Impact

Global warming GIF

NASA Goddard Institute for Space Sciences: Global warming observed from 1980 to 2012

American Physical Society (APS)

Statement on climate change and science (April 2015)

greenhouse2 greenhouse 3

“Earth’s changing climate is a critical issue that poses the risk of significant disruption around the globe. While natural sources of climate variability are significant, multiple lines of evidence indicate that human influences have had an increasingly dominant effect on the climate warming observed since the mid-twentieth century. Although the magnitudes of future effects are uncertain, human influences on the climate are growing. The potential consequences of climate change are great and the policies of the next few decades will determine human influences on the climate for centuries.”

“As summarized in the 2013 report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), there continues to be significant progress in climate science. In particular, the connection between rising concentrations of atmospheric greenhouse gases and the increased warming of the global climate system is more certain than ever. Nevertheless, as recognized by Working Group 1 of the IPCC, scientific challenges remain to our abilities to observe, interpret, and project climate changes. To better inform societal choices, the APS urges sustained research in climate science.”

“The APS reiterates its 2007 call to support actions that will reduce the emissions, and ultimately the concentration, of greenhouse gases, as well as increase the resilience of society to a changing climate. Because physics and its techniques are fundamental elements of climate science, the APS further urges physicists to collaborate with colleagues across disciplines in climate research and to contribute to the public dialogue.”

– The American Physical Society (APS) is a non-profit membership organization working to advance and diffuse the knowledge of physics through its outstanding research journals, scientific meetings, and education, outreach, advocacy, and international activities.


Next Generation Science Standards, on climate change


Massachusetts Science and Technology/Engineering Standards
Based on the Next Generation Science Standards, December, 2013

Earth and Space Science HS-ESS2 Earth’s Systems HS-ESS2-2.

Analyze geoscience data to make the claim that one change to Earth’s surface can create feedbacks that cause changes to other Earth’s systems. Examples should include climate feedbacks, such as how an increase in greenhouse gases causes a rise in global temperatures that melts glacial ice, which reduces the amount of sunlight reflected from Earth’s surface, increasing surface temperatures and further reducing the amount of ice.

HS-ESS2-4. Use a model to describe how variations in the flow of energy into and out of Earth’s systems result in changes in climate.

Examples of the causes of climate change differ by timescale, over 1-10 years: large volcanic eruption, ocean circulation; 10-100s of years: changes in human activity, ocean circulation, solar output; 10-100s of thousands of years: changes to Earth’s orbit and the orientation of its axis; and 10-100s of millions of years: long-term changes in atmospheric composition.

HS-ESS2-6. Use a model to describe the gradual atmospheric and climatic changes due to carbon capture and oxygen release by plants and due to increased carbon dioxide generation through human activity.

HS-ESS3-1. Construct an explanation based on evidence for how the availability of key natural resources and changes due to variations in climate have influenced human activity.

Examples of changes due to variations in climate include changes to sea level and regional patterns of temperature and precipitation.

HS-ESS3-5. Analyze results from global climate models to describe how forecasts are made of the current rate of global or regional climate change and associated future impacts to Earth systems.

Climate model outputs include both climate changes (such as precipitation and temperature) and associated impacts (such as on sea level, glacial ice volumes, or atmosphere and ocean composition).

HS-LS2-7. Analyze direct and indirect effects of human activities on biodiversity and ecosystem health.

Specifically habitat fragmentation, introduction of non-native or invasive species, overharvesting, pollution, and climate change. Evaluate and refine a solution for reducing the impacts of human activities on biodiversity and ecosystem health.



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