Monday, February 16, 2015

Teaching materials on the science of climate change

The Australian Academy of Science has published "The science of climate change", a 44 page booklet intended to explain how global warming is cased by human activities. While too long and technical for the general public, this would be useful for students.

The booklet is available as a web page, and PDF documents (with and without references). I will be suggesting my ICT Sustainability students read Chapter One "What is climate change?", as it provided a good overview. Chapter three "Are human activities causing climate change?" would also be okay for the students (they have degrees in science and engineering), but is a bit too technical for the general public, with several graphs.

The web version of the booklet is well laid out and could be used with e-learning courses. The PDF versions have a portrait layout, with four narrow columns of text, making it hard to read. At more than 7MBytes each, the PDF versions are also too large (and by wasting computer resources will be contributing to carbon emissions). The version without references is twelve pages shorter, but the file is not much smaller (7.1 v 7.3 Mbytes).  About 80% of the PDF files are taken up with excessively large images. I suggest AAS make the images smaller and reduce the PDF file to one third the size (and reduce carbon emissions).

It might also be useful to point out to school, VET and universality teachers, which parts which suit which level of students and include some student exercises. Almost none of the general public are going to read through 44 pages on climate change, but students may well read a dozen pages, if they will get a mark for it.

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