New Meta-Analysis: Climate Change Impacts on Marine Life

A recent meta-analysis of the impacts of climate change on marine life, published in the journal Nature Climate Change (subscription required), would be an excellent reading in a climate impacts module. The study built upon previous meta-analyses that assessed only a limited range of locations, taxonomic groups and biological responses by synthesizing the result of all available studies of the correlation of marine ecological observations and climate change. The study utilized observations that spanned 30 years or more and “diagnostic footprints” including opposing responses in warm-water and cool-water species,  species responses at leading and trailing range ranges and similar responses from discrete populations at the same range edge.

Among the study’s findings:

  1. While the ocean’s thermal capacity has limited warming to approximately one third of that observed in air temperatures over land over the past 50 years, isotherms at the ocean surface have migrated at comparable or faster rates than over land;
  2. There have been marked phenological responses of many marine species, with the fastest range of spring advancement among invertebrate zooplankton and larval bony fish. However, both phyto and zooplankton groups demonstrate slow and similar advancement of summer phenology, indicating that “temporal mismatches” between food requirements and availability have developed;
  3. 83% of observed biological changes in observed marine species were consistent with the direction predicted by climatic models, well outside the changes expected by chance.

This reading could generate some good class discussion, including potential adaptive management strategies and the reasons for the variable responses demonstrated by many species in the study.

Self-Paced Courses on REDD+

The Nature Conservancy, Conservation International, Rainforest Alliance, and the World Wildlife Fund have recently released three new, self-paced and web-based courses on climate change and REDD+ on

The curriculum, Introductory Curriculum on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation and Conserving and Enhancing Forest Carbon Stocks (REDD+), provides an introductory level of understanding on climate change, deforestation, forest degradation, and REDD+. This new version contains up-to-date information on policy and implementation as well as a cool new facelift and improved interactivity. It is divided into three courses:

• In Course 1, Introduction to Climate Change and the Role of Forests, the focus is on background information on climate change, the drivers of deforestation, and strategies for reducing deforestation and forest degradation.

• In Course 2, REDD+ Policy, the essential aspects of the technical, political, financial, social, and environmental issues related to REDD+ are covered.

• Finally, in Course 3, REDD+ Implementation, the focus is on the basics of implementing REDD+ activities at various scales.

The course is freely available to anyone who is interested.

TERI Distance Learning Program on Climate Science

Responding  to increasing concerns over climate change, TERI, the Institute for  Global Environmental Strategies (IGES:, and World Bank Tokyo  Development  Learning  Center  (TDLC: had jointly developed  a  distance learning programme on ‘Science and Policy of Climate Change’ using blended learning technologies.

After the success of this programme for the past two years, we are happy to announce  the  start  of  the  3rd  batch  now from 13 September 2013, with enhanced scope and coverage.

Programme Details

Registration Dates:                           1 August – 31 August 2013

Programme Start Date:           13 September 2013

Duration of the programme:             12 weeks

Programme website:               

Programme Content

Module 1: Science of Climate Change

Module 2: Impacts of Climate Change

Module 3: Coping with Climate Change

Module 4: Action and Political Economy

What Certification will be awarded?

On successful completion of the programme, the participants will be awarded a joint certificate from TERI, IGES and TDLC

International Energy Outlook 2013

The U.S. Energy Information Administration’s summary of its International Energy Outlook 2013 report would be an excellent student reading for an energy or climate course. The report’s summary page also includes many other excellent resources for use in the classroom, including detailed data tables and a 33-slide Power Point summary.

Among the key conclusions of the report:

  1. World energy consumption grows by 56% between 2010-2040, with a 90% jump in use by non-OECD States;
  2. Fossil fuels continue to supply almost 80% of world energy needs through 2040, dropping from 84% of the energy mix in 2010 to 78%:
    1. Global use of petroleum and other liquid fuels increases from 87 MBD in 2010 to 97 MBD in 2040, driven by growth in demand in the transportation and industry sectors, with the former accounting for 63% of this growth;
    2. World natural gas consumption increases by 64% in the Reference case, driven by several desirable characteristics, including lower carbon intensity than oil and coal, relatively low capital costs and favorable heat rates;
    3. Global coal consumption is projected to raise at an average rate of 1.3% annually from 2010-2040, with three countries (China, U.S. and India) accounting for 75% of consumption in 2040. However, environmental considerations and declining costs of natural gas is projected to reduce coal’s share of the global energy mix, including from 40% in 2010 to 36% in 2040.
  3.  Renewable energy sources and nuclear will post the fastest growth of world energy sources, increasing at 2.5% annual rate through 2040. Yet, to put this in discouraging perspective, in the Reference case scenario, renewables share of total energy use only rises from 11 percent in 2010 to 15 percent in 2040, with nuclear energy’s share growing from 5 percent to 7 percent;
    1. Almost 80% of the projected increase in renewable electricity generation will come from hydropower (52% of total) and wind;
  4. Perhaps the most discouraging conclusion of the report is that energy-related carbon dioxide emissions are projected to increase from 31.2 billion metric tons in 2010 to 45.5 billion in 2040, a burgeoning 46%.
    1. Non-OECD emissions are expected to exceed those of the OECD by a whopping 127% in 2040;
    2. The largest share of carbon dioxide emissions during this period are from coal;
    3. Carbon intensity of output is projected to decline by 1.9% annually in OECD countries and 2.7% annually in non-OECD countries.

    This reading could also stimulate some good discussion of what would need to be done to substantially deviate from the “Reference case,” both from a technical and political perspective. It might be coupled with pieces that project potentially far higher market penetration of renewable sources by the middle of the century. This could facilitate discussion of the importance of different methodological approaches, as well as the intrinsically difficult task of projecting energy and climate data so far into the future.



New Energy Syllabus Bank

The Energy Policy & Climate program at Johns Hopkins has developed a new Energy syllabus bank, collecting syllabi from energy science, law, policy and economics courses: It is our intention to regularly update this resource, so please send pertinent syllabi to my attention.

Just a reminder, we’re always seeking syllabi for the Climate Change syllabus bank also:

Please send syllabi to Dr. Wil Burns: [email protected]