Introductory Seminars for First-Year Students

The Global Warming Paradox


This seminar explores global warming and climate change. The point of departure for analysis and discussion will be the complex climate challenges posed by the substantial benefits of energy consumption, and the barriers that  the scale of global energy poverty create for human well-being (including vulnerability to climate-related stresses such as droughts, floods, heat waves, and intense storms). Our discussions will be focused on exploration of what is currently known and not known about Earth's climate system and its interactions with human activities, including Earth's energy balance; detection and attribution of climate change; impacts of climate change on natural and human systems; and proposed methods for curbing further climate change. These topics cut across a broad range of traditional disciplines. Our primary format will be groupwork analyzing real-world datasets, facilitated discussion and shared writing. Breaking media coverage of current events and relevant papers will also be dissected.


Meet the Instructor(s)

Noah Diffenbaugh

"Teaching an Introductory Seminar is one of my favorite parts of being a Stanford professor. I am a professor in the School of Earth, Energy and Environmental Sciences and Senior Fellow at the Woods Institute for the Environment. I am a 'climate scientist,' which means that I study how Earth’s climate works. I am particularly interested in how humans interact with the climate system. This means that I spend a lot of time thinking about the kinds of extreme events that we hear so much about in the news, such as heatwaves, droughts, floods, and wildfires. It also means that I think about what kinds of policies could help us reduce the stress that we experience from the climate system, and how we can manage the amount of climate change that we experience while also providing the energy, food, and water that are required for billions of people to thrive on Planet Earth. I have been honored to be part of international scientific efforts like the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), and to have the opportunity to provide testimony and scientific expertise to federal, state and local officials. I have also enjoyed getting to engage with the public through the media, op-ed writing, and other venues."