ESC110: Introduction to Climate Science



These course guidelines are what this course is all about. Please read them very carefully.

MY TEACHING PHILOSOPHY: 1) Put students first; 2) Always be prepared; 3) Never give up, never surrender. 4) Inspire wonder. 5) Make a difference. I promise to do my best to follow these principles every day.

WHAT I EXPECT FROM YOU: 1) A desire to learn because you understand the importance of education to your family, your future, and your happiness; 2) The motivation to learn how to learn because knowing how to learn secures your place in the world as a skilled and thoughtful and independent human being; 3) Respect towards me and your classmates because everyone is doing the best they can given their level of awareness, because not everyone has had the same opportunities in education and life, and because a world in which people respect each other is a kinder, safer, and more beautiful place to live and love. I hope you will do your best to follow these principles, learn from them, and make them a part of your life.

COURSE SYNOPSIS: Introduction to Climate Science examines the scientific evidence and real-world consequences of human-caused climate change in the context of past climates (e.g., Ice Ages, Hothouse Earth), current climate conditions, and climate model projections in the short- (next 20-50 years) and long-term (next 100s to thousands of years). The course emphasizes learning-by-doing, that is, it emphasizes activities that engage the student in the course materials, and in exploring solutions to reduce the magnitude of future warming. The course invites discussion among your classmate and instructor and in exploration of climate science from a multitude of perspectives.

COURSE DIFFICULTY: Many of my students find the material in this course very difficult. But, by taking this course and successfully passing it, my students are prepared for anything they take at a four-year college and beyond. The skills and ways of understanding learned in this course can be applied to your career and your personal life. Adopting successful habits of mind and learning how to learn anything are key outcomes of my approach to teaching. And challenging students to be all that they can be is my sworn duty.

BASIC SKILLS: If you are enrolled in basic skills reading, math, or English, please contact me before proceeding with this course. Only about 15% of basic skills students pass this class because they are not prepared to study at a college level. If you’re willing to work extra hard, then you should be okay.

TECHNOLOGY: I expect that everyone enrolled in this course knows how to use a computer and the Internet. I also expect that you know how to use a word-processing program, and how to save or export a document as a .doc, .docx, .rtf, or .pdf. Even Pages for the Macs can export Word files. You’ll also need to come up to speed with Canvas, if you aren’t already familiar with it. If you don’t know how, please be willing to learn. You’ll find lots of help on the internet, especially YouTube. Heck, you can even email a classmate to ask for help and make a new friend!

ACADEMIC HONESTY/COLLEGE POLICIES: All college, district, state and federal policies, guidelines and regulations apply to this course. The Fullerton College Catalog and the Class Schedule contain a number of important policies and guidelines. Check them out. You may purchase copies of these publications at the campus bookstore, or you may read them online at the Fullerton College website, Students are urged to review the FC Catalog policy on Academic Honesty. If you are caught cheating, you will receive a zero for that assignment or exam. Repeated offenses have stronger penalties.

NO COPYING OR QUOTING: I do not allow students to copy or quote other works in this course. Use your own words always. This policy applies to everything you submit, especially extra credit. Copying or paraphrasing a single sentence from another student, Wikipedia, any other source, and even yourself will result in a zero for the entire assignment or exam. Using images, figures, or other forms of multimedia that are not your own is also prohibited.

ATTENDANCE REQUIREMENTS: All students must attend the first day of classes or they will be dropped as a no show. Any student who misses more than three class sessions, or who fails to log into Canvas for more than two weeks–consecutive or non-consecutive–may be dropped for non-participation. Email me if you miss class or are going to miss class and I’ll work with you.

DROP POLICY: It is the responsibility of the student to drop the course regardless of attendance requirements. Do not rely on your professor to drop you for any reason. Failure to drop a course may result in a failing grade (F) for the semester.

STUDY REQUIREMENTS: Students may expect to spend 9-12 HOURS PER WEEK COMPLETING WORK IN THE CLASSROOM, IN CANVAS AND OUT OF THE CLASSROOM STUDYING for this course. This time includes time you spend in the classroom and the recommended study time for a 3-unit course. Students are urged to review the suggestions provided in the FC Course Catalog concerning workload and class load. Consider reducing your work hours, spending less time with friends and family, limiting social media time, and other time-management strategies that will help you find time to study. You can find time if you use time wisely.

LATE WORK: I don’t accept late work for any reason. Having worked in the business world for several years, I can assure you that showing up on time and submitting work on time is expected. Timeliness is next to godliness.

AMERICANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT (ADA) STATEMENT: Fullerton College is committed to providing educational accommodations for students with disabilities upon the timely request by the student to the instructor. Verification of the disability must also be provided. The Disability Support Services office functions as a resource for students and faculty in the determination and provision of educational accommodations.

FULLERTON COLLEGE CATALOG AND CLASS SCHEDULE: The Fullerton College Catalog and the Class Schedule contain a number of important policies and some great tips on studying. Please browse or read these publications for the parts that are important to you. You may purchase copies of these publications at the campus bookstore, or you may read them online at the Fullerton College website. Current Schedule: College Catalog:

STANDARDS OF STUDENT CONDUCT AND DISCIPLINE POLICY: As cited in BP5500, “A student who violates the standards of student conduct shall be subject to disciplinary action including, but not limited to, the removal, suspension or expulsion of the student.” The standards of student conduct and disciplinary action for violation of Board Policy 5500 were approved by the NOCCCD Board on January 28, 2003, and were drawn in compliance with Sections 66300, 76030, 76033, 76034, 76036 of the State Education Code. Students are expected to respect and obey civil and criminal law and shall be subject to the legal penalties for violation of the city, county, state, and national law(s). Student conduct must conform to Board Policy and college regulations and procedures.

As noted above, students have an obligation to familiarize themselves with the College’s policies, rules and regulations and to conduct themselves in a reasonable, respectful manner, which is conducive toward attaining their educational goal. Upon registration, each student should obtain a copy of the College Policies and Regulations: Standards of Student Conduct and Discipline Policy. Contained therein are the policies approved by the Board of Trustees governing student behavior and the applicable penalties for violations of these policies. Copies are available in the Student Affairs Office, the Office of Equity and Diversity, all division offices, and the Student Services office.

EMERGENCY RESPONSE STATEMENT: An earthquake or extreme weather event may happen at any moment. Take note of the safety features in and around where you complete your work. Note the posted evacuation routes. During strong earthquakes, it is recommended to duck beneath a desk, cover your head with your hands, and hold on to your ass until the quaking stops. Running out of a building during an earthquake can be deadly. Didn’t you hear “The Rock” in San Andreas?

UNDECIDED ON A MAJOR? Why not pursue a career in Oceanography, Meteorology, Geology, or Earth Science? You may be amazed at the opportunities for students in this field. If you are interested in business, technology, computers, working with machinery, public relations, marketing, law, physical fitness, medicine, health and just about any other subject, we need you! All that’s required is a passion for the ocean. Just ask me.


Upon successful completion of this course, students will be able to:

  • Define the major terms and explain the major concepts of climate science
  • Interpret and apply quantitative information, including climate maps, graphs, and tables of data.
  • Use the terms and concepts of climate science to communicate local and global issues of climate concern.


Our textbook for the course this semester is Climate Change: What The Science Tells Us, by Charles Fletcher and published by Wiley (2013); ISBN-13: 978-1118057537 ISBN-10: 1118057538.

This textbook is essential for the course. Everything we do in this course centers around this textbook. The textbook is available for sale or rent through the Fullerton College bookstore,, and other vendors.

The cover of the book looks like this:


The following websites serve our course. Try to become familiar with them in the first week of classes, or you may feel lost. Read very carefully the directions to log in to Canvas. This isn’t Instagram or Snapchat. It’s real life.

MYGATEWAY: This is a portal to Canvas but I don’t use it otherwise. At all. For anything.

CANVAS: This course uses CANVAS as a Learning Management System (LMS) to provide announcements, quizzes, lecture notes, grades, and other materials and assessments related to the course. All students are expected to log in at least 2-3 times per week to adequately prepare and study for materials covered in class.

You may gain access to Canvas through the link on MyGateway. Once logged in, go to the Fullerton tab, scroll down to the Canvas icon, and click on it for your Canvas dashboard. If you are experiencing difficulties logging in through MyGateway, go to Login using your MyGateway credentials (with no @sign in front of the Banner id.)

Occasionally, you may experience problems with Canvas. Just be patient, contact me immediately, and I will work to solve your problem. Of course, you have to leave time for me to help you. Cries for help at the last hour go unheeded. Do your work often and early just in case.

If you’re having difficulty, or just want to know more about Canvas, you may also try try this website:

YOUTUBE VIDEOS: Helpful videos for this course are posted in two channels on YouTube:

Science Nuts!

Professor Sean’s Lectures:

ANYTHING ELSE? If you are looking for anything else and can’t find it, by all means e-mail me!


If you wish to receive 3-4 weekly text message reminders of upcoming due dates and occasional breaking news, such as impending sharknadoes, tsunami, or other events related to our course, do one of the following: 1) download the Remind app (free) and enter the code @6cf6e7; 2) text @6cf6e7 to the number 81010 or (714) 676-5963; or visit Note that your phone number (and mine) are kept private with this service. And it’s free!


Please send ALL e-mail correspondence to When you send me e-mails, please always type a SUBJECT for your e-mail (like “Help”, “a quick question”, question about exam”, etc). E-mails with untitled subjects will end up in the spam folder.

ALWAYS put your FULL NAME, COURSE (Climate Science), and CRN (see above) as the first line of all e-mails.

If you don’t hear back from me in 48 hours, send your email again.

Please don’t send me e-mail through MyGateway.

Please avoid sending email to my fullcoll address.

Please be courteous! I promise to treat you with the manners and respect that you deserve if you promise to treat me the same. I am more than happy to listen to reasonable and rational statements. If I have made an error, I am more than happy to correct it.

Kindness applies to your classmates as well. A colleague with cancer writes at the end of e-mails…”Be kinder than necessary, for everyone you know is fighting a battle of some kind!”


I welcome visits from students during my office hours! For best results, however, please send me an email and let me know that you are coming so I can be on the lookout for you.

My office, Room 411-02, is located in the 400 building on the east side of the Quad. Upon entering the 400 building, take a right then another right and then a left. I am the first door on the right.

Campus office hours are Mondays and Wednesdays, 11:15-1:15p, and Tuesdays, 11:45-1:15p, in Room 411-02.

In addition to the chat room, you’ll find a number of useful tools and resources in my office hour site.

If you need to see me outside of these times, please email me at I will do my best to accommodate you.


The goal of college is to prepare yourself for a successful life and a career beyond college. In taking this course, you are being trained to master an unfamiliar knowledge set, to apply what you learn in new situations, to think about competing possibilities, and to articulate your rationale for choosing a particular way of thinking.

Your final grade in this class is based on your ability to learn and understand the course materials and to meet the learning outcomes for this course. A number of tools will be provided for you to learn the materials, obtain the knowledge, and develop the understandings to meet these outcomes. Not all of the available tools earn you points but you can bet that if you spend time learning about the ocean, you are going to be successful in point-earning assignments. Some of these tools will help you form your knowledge (formative assessments). Other tools will assess what you have learned (summative assessments).


This course primarily uses active learning as a tool for helping you to master terms and concepts, gain skill at reading maps and graphs, and sharpen your critical thinking to better understand human-caused climate change. In the classroom, you will engage in fun and instructive activities with classmates; use iPads to take quizzes and surveys, watch videos, or complete worksheets; make simple measurements using probeware (thermometers, salinometers, pH meters, etc.); and practice techniques for extracting information from and understanding content in books, journals, and webpages (i.e., science literacy). Of course, we’ll also watch videos, too, because videos make science come alive in a way that still images cannot convey.

In and out of class, you’ll also use Canvas to access lecture notes and lecture slides, watch videos, complete short answer participation  assignments, take practice quizzes, and prepare for exams. Canvas provides a learning environment outside of the classroom that allows you to reinforce what you learn inside the classroom. Learning happens best when you engage in the material frequently for short periods of time. Canvas is perfect for that.

You are invited and encouraged to work ahead. You may always go back later to review earlier material and you may always retake a quiz. Find a schedule and pace that works for you. Do your best to do a little bit each day. You’re life will be less stressful and you’ll thank yourself in the end if you keep up with (or even ahead of) the work!


Quizzes keep your brain sharp. They provide immediate feedback on what you have learned. They help point out gaps in your knowledge and shortcomings in your study techniques. In this course, quizzes are aimed at helping you master the vocabulary of oceanography, work out solutions to math problems, and develop a better understanding of the concepts. A mastery of terms provides the foundation for everything else that we do in the course, and an understanding of the concepts builds a framework for understanding the world ocean and how it works as a system. Quizzes are an integral component of the “learning how to learn” pathway.

You are required to complete several quizzes during the semester. I encourage you to complete them in the week in which they are assigned, if not earlier.

Quizzes may be taken an unlimited number of times during the weeks in which they are offered. But beware! Quizzes have due dates. Typically, a new set of quizzes comes online and an old set of quizzes goes offline every four weeks.

Your highest quiz score will be counted. Note, however, that even if you score a high score on the first quiz, it’s worth your time to take the quiz several times. That way you will be better prepared for the exams or final exam that take most of their questions from the quizzes.

Quizzes are worth a various number of points, usually 20-30 points each, for a weighted total of 30% of your total grade.


Assignments offer opportunities to quickly assess if you retained and understood the materials you just read, viewed, or listened to. They make you put down your thoughts in written fashion, which has been shown to be one of the best ways to determine if you really know your stuff. (The other way is to tell someone and see if they understand, which is always a good practice. Your pet can be an amazing listener if you give them a chance. They also know BS when they hear it.)

You are required to complete a few to several in-class and out-of class assignments that you choose or propose from a selection of assignments during the semester. You may complete a standard set of assignments related to the course material or you may choose a project of your own on some aspect of the course material. We’ll discuss “self-propelled” assignments in more detail in class.

Assignments are worth a total of 30% of your final grade.


Exams assess your ability to identify, define, and use vocabulary from lectures, textbook readings, in-class work, out-of-class work, YouTube lectures, or other study materials. Exams assess your ability to draw and/or interpret maps, graphs, and tables and solve equations covered in lectures, textbook reading, in-class work, out-of-class work, YouTube lectures, or other assigned materials. Exams assess your understanding of concepts and your ability to apply and communicate what you have learned.

You will take four exams on the dates listed in the syllabus below. A Scantron will be provided but you will need a pencil (or two) and an eraser. Exams will be a mix of multiple choice, matching, short answer, calculations, map/graph interpretations, and essays, and new exams will build on previous exams.

Cheating will not be tolerated. Anyone who copies answers from another student will receive a zero.

Exams are worth 100 points each, or 40% of your final grade (400/1000).


Quizzes: 30%
Assignment: 30%
Exams: 40%


The course is based on 1000 points.


A = 85%
B = 75%
C = 65%
D = 55%
F = <55%


Many students often want a very well-defined, narrow list of things they need to know. That’s understandable as, unfortunately, most students just want to get through college with as little effort as possible. But would you want a doctor or lawyer or auto mechanic who “just learned the minimum?” Would you want a school teacher for your children who teaches your children wrong facts and ideas? When the barista at Starbucks ignores you, or the window clerk at McDonald’s gets your order wrong, doesn’t that irritate you just a little?

The purpose of college is to give you a better life and to improve the lives of the people around you, your family, friends, neighbors, and fellow Americans. College expands your mind, exposes you to new ways of thinking, makes you aware of knowledge and ideas beyond your wildest imagination, teaches you to learn how to learn and be prepared for any challenge, opens doors to new opportunities.

I hope that you are here to enrich your mind and your life to the fullest extent possible. Take the attitude that “I want to learn as much as I can” and you will be amazingly successful not just in this course, but in all of your college courses and life. Remember the adage, “Your life is what your thoughts make it.”


At the risk of encouraging you to pursue outside activities rather than focusing on learning the course materials, I will make available some extra credit opportunities, up to 50 total points or 5% of your total grade. These opportunities, worth 10 points each, will require attending an event, taking a pic of you at the event, writing up to 500 words about what you learned and why it’s important, and posting it in the extra credit section of the Canvas website. All extra credit will be added at the end of the semester after I have completed grading the final exam. The goal with the extra credit is to encourage you to experience important, science-related activities that you might not otherwise attend. It will help you over the edge in some cases, but it’s not enough to make up for poor exam grades. Know that your focus should be on your studies, and if you have time, then check out some of the extra stuff.


Week # Week Starting Major Topics Weekly Course Readings & Viewings (in addition to materials assigned within Canvas) Assessments
1 Monday, 8/20 What Is The Greenhouse Effect and How Is It Being Affected by Human Activities? Chapter 1, pp 1-19

Video: Global Warning Arctic Melt:

1Quiz 1: Chapter 1 and Video

1Various assignments

2 Monday, 8/27 What Is The Greenhouse Effect and How Is It Being Affected by Human Activities? (continued) Chapter 1, pp 19-43 1Various assignments
3 Monday, 9/3 What Is The Evidence For Climate Change? Chapter 2, pp 44-59

Documentary: Chasing Ice

1Quiz 2: Chapter 2

1Various assignments

4 Monday, 9/10 What Is The Evidence For Climate Change? (continued) Chapter 2, pp 59-71 EXAM ONE IN CLASS, 9/12

1All of the above due no later than 1155PM, Saturday, 9/15, 2018.

5 Monday, 9/17 How Do We Know That Humans Are The Primary Cause of Climate Change? Chapter 3, pp 72-86

Taking Earth’s Temperature

2Quiz 3: Chapter 3

2Various assignments

6 Monday, 9/24 How Do We Know That Humans Are The Primary Cause of Climate Change? (continued) Chapter 3, pp 86-103


2Various assignments
7 Monday, 10/1 How Do Scientists Project Future Climate? Chapter 4, pp 104-115

Documentary: Thin Ice

2Quiz 4: Chapter 4

2Various assignments

8 Monday, 10/8 How Do Scientists Project Future Climate? (continued) Chapter 4, pp 115-139 EXAM TWO IN CLASS, 10/17

2All of the above due no later than 1155PM, Saturday, 10/20, 2018.

9 Monday, 10/15 What Is The Reality of Sea Level Rise? Chapter 5, pp 140-162

HBO Video: Our Rising Oceans

3Quiz 5: Chapter 5

3Various assignments

10 Monday, 10/22 What Is The Reality of Sea Level Rise? (continued) Chapter 5, pp 162-175 3Various assignments
11 Monday,


How Does Global Warming Affect Our Community?


Chapter 6, pp 176-202

Documentary: Chasing Coral


3Quiz 6: Chapter 6

3Various assignments

12 Monday,


How Does Global Warming Affect Our Community? (continued) Chapter 6, pp 202-217 EXAM THREE IN CLASS, 11/7

3All of the above due no later than 1155PM, Saturday, 11/10 2018.

13 Monday,


What Is The Latest Word On Climate Change? Chapter 7, pp 218-238

Documentary: Time To Choose

4Quiz 7: Chapter 7

4Various assignments

14 Monday,


What Is The Latest Word On Climate Change? (continued) Chapter 7, pp 238-255 4Various assignments
15 Monday,


Climate Change Solutions Canvas Materials
16 Monday,


Finals Week FINAL EXAM IN CLASS, 12/5

4All of the above due no later than 1155PM, Wednesday, December 5, 2018.