Program Spotlight: Climate Change Studies

Certificate explores scientific mechanisms and social drivers of climate change

Stopping planetary warming from rising above 1.5 ºC (2.7 ºF) is a critical objective in the fight against climate change. Just half a degree higher can mean severely altering outcomes for most forms of life on Earth.

For example, 1.5 ºC warming could destroy 70–90 percent of the globe’s coral reefs. A rise of 2 ºC could wipe out 99 percent. The world could go from losing 6 percent of its insect population to 18 percent; beneficial insects like dragonflies, ants, and bees would suffer the most while insect pests like cockroaches and fleas are adaptable to climate shifts.

According to NASA, “There is unequivocal evidence that Earth is warming at an unprecedented rate. Human activity is the principal cause. While Earth’s climate has changed throughout its history, the current warming is happening at a rate not seen in the past 10,000 years.”

NASA goes on to report that the “effects of human-caused global warming are happening now, are irreversible for people alive today, and will worsen as long as humans add greenhouse gases to the atmosphere.”

The consequences of unrestricted climate change are ominous and include:

  • Warming and acidifying oceans
  • Vanishing sea ice
  • Swifter rise in sea levels
  • Melting glaciers
  • Longer and hotter heat waves
  • Greater intensity and frequency of droughts and wildfires along with more extreme weather, including cyclones, hurricanes, tornadoes, blizzards, flash floods, river floods, ice storms, and dust storms
  • Increased food insecurity
  • Species loss (including humans) and habitat loss (including human)
  • Higher risk of pandemics caused by vector-borne pathogens
  • More heat-induced illness and death in elderly and vulnerable populations
  • Coastal erosion leading to mass inland migration
  • Expanding human conflicts
  • Higher unemployment rates and enhanced occupational hazards due to heat stress

Heading off climate change is a challenge humankind cannot afford to ignore. Inver Hills Community College is offering a 16-credit Climate Change certificate that will get you up to speed on the factual causes, impending risks, and best-case remedies linked to what a 2022 Pew Research survey identifies as “the top global threat.”

The certificate is also your launching pad for a career associated with environmental stewardship. GreenCitizen lists 21 rewarding jobs that facilitate climate change solutions, including:

  • Urban grower
  • Invasive species controller
  • Weatherization expert
  • Sustainability consultant
  • Environmental lawyer
  • Conservation scientist
  • Climatologist
  • Disaster preparedness trainer
  • Stormwater engineer
  • Plus a dozen more!

According to Indeed: “In recent years, the market for climate change and sustainability jobs has grown considerably. This growth may be attributed to new developments in client science and society’s increased awareness of how humans impact the environment.

“If you’re interested in environmentalism, there are an array of careers to consider in which you can work toward addressing climate change. Depending on your specific interests, you may choose to work in a variety of roles.”

“Climate change impacts and risks are becoming increasingly complex and more difficult to manage. Multiple climate hazards will occur simultaneously, and multiple climatic and non-climatic risks will interact, resulting in compounding overall risk and risks cascading across sectors and regions. Some responses to climate change result in new impacts and risks (high confidence).”
IPCC Sixth Assessment Report
Headline Statement
Established in 1988 by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and World Meteorological Organization (WMO), the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) produces scientific reports and assessments illustrating the causes, effects, and mitigation of climate change.

More about the Climate Change certificate program at Inver Hills…

Challenge: Polar ice caps melting

The 16-credit Climate Change certificate offers courses across four different areas:

  • Climate Change
  • Climate Science
  • Climate and Society: Social Concerns
  • Climate and Society: Solutions

You have the opportunity to take a range of informative and inspiring courses:

  • Introduction to Climate Change Studies
  • General Ecology
  • Meteorology
  • Environmental Science
  • Environmental Philosophy
  • Women and Global Issues
  • Introduction to Environmental Politics
  • Engineering Solutions

Why Study Climate Change at Inver Hills?

Challenge: Hurricanes and typhoons

Climate change education is essential.
Many high schools are no longer requiring Earth Science or other sciences relevant to climate, which means student exposure to climate science could be minimal.

We need to comprehend the scope of the challenge.
Humans make positive changes when they understand the problem. We can’t change what we don’t acknowledge. Our hope is students come away with a better understanding of the natural and human causes of climate change and how to improve the lives of all humans.

Strong policy shifts are a big step.
Major change happens at the policy level. Good policy involves good scientists and a trust of climate science.

Oceans do their own thing.
Oceans don’t care about people’s political persuasions. All they know how to do is rise. Warmer oceans do not absorb carbon from the atmosphere, unlike cold oceans, and the result is more greenhouse gases. Warmer oceans increase in volume and the result is sea-level rise.

Think beyond our borders.
The climate changes we’re seeing in Minnesota are the tip of the iceberg. In the new course, Introduction to Climate Change Studies, we’ll explore what is happening globally. Who is seeing the most changes and why? How are these changes affecting people’s everyday lives? What changes are people having to make to survive?

Polar warming is a red alert.
Cold (polar) regions are seeing far greater warming than warmer (equatorial) regions. We’ll explore Indigenous observations of the Arctic and the vast number of changes they have seen, including thinning sea ice, changes in ice and snow characteristics, poor body condition of many animals, permafrost melt, greater frequency of extreme weather events, and other issues.

The refugee crisis will touch everyone.
If climate change is the shark, the hydrologic cycle is the teeth. Changes in the hydrologic cycle are what is going to bite people in the end. Climate refugees are fleeing to other countries or even within the United States. Minnesota is one of the locations where climate refugees are coming, and we’ll explore the reasons why.

Environmental Philosophy

Challenge: Expiring livelihoods

“I teach PHIL 2130: Environmental Philosophy, which is part of the Climate Change certificate. The course serves as an elective for the Social Concerns component.

Chuck Stieg

“I see Environmental Philosophy as a crucial course for Climate Change Studies because the curriculum focuses on the abstract questions and concepts that play critical roles in how we situate ourselves in the world.

“Broadly, we are interested in two main topics:

  1. What is the ontological relationship between human beings and nature? This entails examining what constitutes an “environment”; what kind of impact different environments can have on its population; what “nature” and “wildness” mean.
  2. What is the ethical relationship between human beings and nature? This requires us to examine what sorts of things in the world have moral status and why: sentient creatures? All living things? Some nonliving things? Whole biospheres? And do humans have moral obligations to future generations of humans or any other entity with moral status?”
Chuck Stieg
Philosophy Faculty
Inver Hills Community College

PHIL 2130: Environmental Philosophy
Credits: 3
MnTC Goal Areas: 09, 10
Examines current and traditional accounts of the environment including the impact of human activity, natural events, geographical changes, climate change, etc. This course will also explore a range of philosophical topics within the area of environmentalism and its role in human development.

Faculty perspective: Erica Wood

Erica Wood started teaching geology courses at Inver Hills in 2012. She earned an M.S. in Geology from the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks in 2001. Her thesis was titled Lithospheric Flexure of the Devils Lake Basin, North Dakota.

Erica holds a B.S. in Geological Engineering and a B.S. in Geology, also from UND. She transferred to UND from Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter, Minnesota.

Before joining the faculty at Inver Hills, Erica served in a range of teaching and engineering positions, including:

  • Assistant project engineer, GeoDynamics, Inc., Grand Forks, North Dakota
  • Engineering field assistant, University of North Dakota, Grand Forks, North Dakota
  • Geology instructor, Edgewood College, Madison, Wisconsin
  • Geology instructor, Madison Area Technical College, Madison, Wisconsin
  • Geology instructor, University of Phoenix (online)

“I enjoy working with fantastic faculty and staff to make a difference in the lives of students,” Erica said, regarding her teaching experience at Inver Hills, “whether it’s helping a student with an educational or career choice, sharing new information, or simply making them feel like they’re part of the Inver Hills community.”

Erica teaches the Introduction to Climate Change Studies course in the Climate Change certificate curriculum. In her free time, she enjoys camping, road trips, trail-running, and spending time with family.

NSCI 1110: Introduction to Climate Change Studies
Credits: 3
MnTC Goal Areas: 03, 10
Investigates the causes and magnitudes of past and present climate change. Identifies human responsibility in our recent past and future climate and how this impacts humans globally. Predicts future climate change based on current trends and explores climate solutions.

Erica Wood Climate Change Q & A

What lessons can geology teach us about the dynamics of climate change?

With our busy lives, constant attention to the week’s schedule, and fear of aging, humans are preoccupied with short timescales, forgetting the rhythms of Earth have long existed before us and allow humans to exist. It is not coincidence we have 8 billion people on the planet at this very moment in Earth’s time frame.

The processes that shape Earth involve more stable, steady processes like the building and slow eroding of mountains with shorter timescale processes like glaciations, flooding, and atmospheric conditions. The positions of continents, for example, control ocean currents which in turn, control climate.

The Antarctic ice sheet would not exist if South America had not separated from Antarctica a very short 50 million years ago. Rock cores, sediment samples, and ice cores allow geologists to reconstruct Earth’s history and reconstruct paleoclimate hundreds of millions of years before present. In geologic history, there have been 5 major mass extinctions in which flora and fauna all met their demise due to climate change.

Erica Wood
Erica Wood
What are the most pervasive myths surrounding climate change?

One common myth is since climate change has occurred throughout geologic history, the climate change we’re experiencing currently is normal and natural. While true, the climate has changed many times, natural climate change occurs at a far slower rate than what we see today. Furthermore, due to normal, natural fluctuations in Earth’s orbital path around the Sun, we should be going back into an ice age, not warming.

Another common myth is there’s a lack of scientific consensus. More than 97 percent of climate scientists agree humans are causing climate change (with some studies saying 100 percent agree). Much like the tobacco industry casting doubt on the science linking smoking to cancer, the fossil fuel industry has been successful at casting doubt on the science linking fossil fuels to climate change.

Scientific publications from the early 1900s predict a warming climate based off the burning of fossil fuels. It was not until the early 1990s when fossil fuel industries poured money into groups selling doubt that we see the crippling political polarization and a lack of climate policy. Prior to the political polarization, Republican President George H.W. Bush was a leader in the climate change effort!

How concerned should Gen Alphas (born 2013–2025), Generation Zs (born 1995–2012), and Millennials (born 1980–1994) be about the unchecked consequences of climate change?

Everyone should be very worried for themselves, for their children, and their children’s children. Earth takes more than 100,000 years to cool, but warming is very quick: a phenomenon known as the “runaway greenhouse effect.”

Climate change disproportionately affects impoverished and disadvantaged people, the very people who burn the least amount of fossil fuels. Historically, we’ve seen civilizations thrive when the climate is favorable and collapse when the climate changes. What gives me hope is the passion I see among younger generations. They see the problem and are taking action.

How can we convince skeptical people to not only believe climate change is real, but also persuade them to take positive action to avert future calamities caused by a runaway climate?

Our brains are poorly equipped to handle a problem of this magnitude, which results in either denial or ignoring the problem. The best thing we can do is to talk about climate change and the best way to have conversations is to start small by finding common interests. Talking about the realities of what is happening locally hits home for many: local droughts, floods, warmer winters, a new species in a region like deer ticks, the increasing costs of insurance premiums from weather-related claims, higher taxes to pay for infrastructure damaged by weather. These are issues with which people can identify.

Finally, remind people that by working together to solve the crisis, we all benefit. Little by little, we can all make a difference by having these conversations.

What are three most practical and effective solutions to the climate change crisis?

Vote! Major advancements in fixing the climate crisis will not happen without good climate policies. So much of our lives are affected by politics on the state and local level like whether we have access to clean water. For example, Dakota County passed stronger water regulations to prohibit the bulk exportation of our groundwater to other states like the Southwest where water is scarce.

Another practical solution in reducing our carbon and water footprint by making make small dietary changes. Thirteen percent of fossil fuel emissions come from agriculture, the majority of which is to grow feed for animals. Much of the deforestation is to grow crops to feed livestock, poultry, and fish, and only 1 percent of the calories a cow eats goes into edible calories by humans. Dietary changes don’t have to be drastic. What feels doable now? If reducing meat products seems too challenging, start small, maybe with meatless Mondays.

Lastly, we cannot solve the climate crisis unless we talk about climate change to everyone: to our friends, family, neighbors, even the cranky ones, and our elected leaders. The problem will only get worse by ignoring it. It will take all of us to help solve the climate crisis.

Evolution of Climate Change Studies at Inver Hills

Mary Petrie, PhD, was instrumental in founding the Climate Change certificate program. She teaches the course, GWS 1200: Women and Global Issues, in the certificate’s curriculum. 

“My interest in climate stems from the decade-plus that I spent out of the workforce to raise my children. During that time, I got deeply involved in environmental and neighborhood issues.

Mary Petrie, PhD

“My then-neighbor (and Green Party member), Elizabeth Dickinson, and I formed a broad coalition of more than 30 organizations (churches, businesses, corporations, nonprofits) to pressure Xcel Energy into converting their St. Paul coal-fired plant to natural gas a decade ahead of their legislative agreement to do so.

“These efforts eventually led us to work directly with state legislators, who rewrote the legislation to align with our request and forced Xcel to convert to natural gas much earlier than the company had planned.

“From there, I went on to run Dickinson’s mayoral run in St. Paul on the Green Party ticket. That’s the era in which I woke up to the urgency of climate change.

“I joined Inver Hills in 2008 as unlimited full-time faculty in the English department. Within a couple of years, I founded Gender & Women’s Studies (my degrees include minors in feminist studies). Teaching GWS courses requires staying up-to-date with conditions for women around the world.

“About five years ago, I became alarmed by trends in research indicating that the health and well-being of women and children were already being sharply negatively affected by climate change. I realized that I could no longer teach a class called Women and Global Issues without centering climate change.

“This was the genesis of Climate Change Studies at Inver Hills. Working with colleagues whose disciplines were newly or more urgently concerned with climate, we created an interdisciplinary Climate Change Studies certificate program to help students better understand both the scientific mechanisms behind the actual physical processes of climate change and the broad social disruptions and responses to these processes.”

Mary Petrie, PhD
English Faculty
Gender & Women’s Studies Faculty
Inver Hills Community College

More about Mary Petrie, PhD…

Mary Petrie earned her Ph.D. and M.A. in English with minors in Feminist Studies from the University of Minnesota. Mary also holds a B.A. in East Asian Studies with a minor in Chinese from Hamline University.

Mary serves as full-time faculty in the college’s English department; she also founded the Gender & Women’s Studies (GWS) program, which offers an A.A. degree with Emphasis in GWS.

GWS 1200: Women and Global Issues
Credits: 3
MnTC Goal Areas: 08, 09
Explores the political, economic, environmental, and cultural influences shaping women’s live around the world, with a focus on the Global South and climate change. Investigates the distinction between “global” issues and local issues by examining international commonalities as well as differences.

Student perspectives

Naomi Tracy-Hegg

Naomi Tracy-Hegg
Homeschool Student
Climate Change Activist

Naomi Tracy-Hegg has a naturally scientific mind. Naomi has been troubled by the implications of climate change for more than six years—and she’s only 16 years old.

Her civic engagement and technical scholarship have been covered by the Star Tribune and Cook County News Herald:

“We don’t have forever: Teen activists push Cook County to declare climate emergency”
“Our Home, The Blue Marble” (co-author)
“Three local homeschool students earn highest marks at the Minnesota Homeschool Alliance Science Fair”
“Earth Day celebration held in Grand Marais”

Naomi Tracy-Hegg: “I fight for climate action because I have to. As a young person, I know the coming decades are no longer the far-flung future: they’re my life. I’m going to be 26 when the Earth is projected to hit 2 °C of warming compared to preindustrial levels, a known tipping point where even more disastrous effects are going to be felt.

“I’m barely going to be 40 when all the coral reefs in the world will be dead, and the ocean ecosystem collapses. Within my lifetime, well over half of the world’s population will be displaced—or dead—due to sea level rise. Right now, as we speak, the planet that I’m going to have to live on is undergoing an extinction comparable to what killed the dinosaurs.”

Age: 16
Hometown:  Born in Dunedin, New Zealand; went to elementary school in Maple Grove, Minnesota, completing high school/homeschool in Grand Marais, Minnesota
Current residence: Grand Marais, Minnesota
High school and year graduating: Homeschooled, graduating in 2025
College education plans: Unsure—most likely something science-related
Career plans: Unsure—most likely something science-related

Three words that describe you as a climate change activist:

Naomi Tracy-Hegg Climate Change Q & A

What inspired you to take the Introduction to Climate Change Studies course at Inver Hills?

Having been involved in climate action since I was 10 years old, this subject area was already of interest to me. In recent years, however, I had felt that I was losing touch, so to speak, with the current science: when I was a small child, having watched Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth was all I really needed to be an effective activist, but as I got more deeply involved with this work, I found myself lacking in the necessary expertise.

All too often, I found myself having to use the phrases, “I’m a child. I don’t have to know all the answers. The science is clear that our future is at risk, and I’m here to point this out. It is your job, the policymakers’ job, to find the proper experts—and the proper solutions.”

While this is true—children shouldn’t have to know everything to make change—it still felt like I should be better equipped to summarize the science and propose solutions. So, when I saw that this class was available, it seemed to be just what I needed. The opportunity to earn a Climate Change certificate was quite attractive as well!

What did you like best about the course?

While I absolutely loved many aspects of the course, I particularly appreciated the heavy emphasis that Ms. Wood put on how the Earth’s natural systems work normally. When you hear in the news that rising temperatures are leading to more intense storms, more intense droughts, snow in Texas, fires in California (the list goes on), what the news doesn’t provide is the “why,” how warmer temperatures fuel bigger hurricanes, shift global precipitation patterns, or shift the jet stream.

Understanding the physical mechanisms behind these terrifying disasters made me feel better equipped to help on the other end: creating solutions.

What important information about climate change did you learn during the course?

One of the most useful pieces of information that I picked up in this course (relative to activism—lots of information would be more “important” in other contexts) was actually in the first week, when we read about how climate change is not the kind of disaster that humans evolved to solve, which is why we haven’t solved it: many different psychological factors, such as prioritization of immediate problems and the bystander effect, make it extremely difficult for people to care, and even more difficult for us to make a change.

This knowledge is extremely helpful in activism because, with an understanding of what’s going on inside the heads of policymakers and citizens, I can attempt to write my speeches or presentations in a manner that can hopefully circumvent this evolutionarily ingrained stagnancy.

Why do you feel strongly about finding ways to combat climate change?

I fight for climate action because I have to. As a young person, I know the coming decades are no longer the far-flung future: they’re my life. I’m going to be 26 when the Earth is projected to hit 2 °C of warming compared to preindustrial levels, a known tipping point where even more disastrous effects are going to be felt.

I’m barely going to be 40 when all the coral reefs in the world will be dead, and the ocean ecosystem collapses. Within my lifetime, well over half of the world’s population will be displaced—or dead—due to sea level rise. Right now, as we speak, the planet that I’m going to have to live on is undergoing an extinction comparable to what killed the dinosaurs.

When I look toward my future, I want to think about my college plans, career plans, family plans. But I can’t think of that because my future is going to be spent running from fires, droughts, floods. I fight for climate action because I want to have a future.

What advice would you give people who are unconcerned about climate change?

The following is directed at people who understand that climate change is a crisis, but don’t take action, not people that deny the science put forth by the IPCC and thousands of climate scientists.

Humans have evolved to put their immediate concerns first, to copy their peers to avoid social ostracization, and to avoid investing extra energy in solving problems when it appears that others are solving it for them. These are built into our DNA, and it makes it incredibly difficult to care about climate change.

Humans have also evolved to listen to what their brains are telling them: when your brain tells you not to care about something and you care about it anyways, that’s usually called irrationality or panic. But this situation is different: this is a crisis that could plausibly lead to the fall of human civilization, and to solve it, we have to find a way to push our brains aside and act now.

It’s not easy. But when you look at the most successful climate activists, you’re seeing people who have managed to push through the uncaring. Greta Thunberg credits her autism for having allowed her to swim against the flow of society.

Many top activists say that they have very little hope for humanity, but fight on because they have to. I myself suspect that I was able to start this journey of activism because my young brain hadn’t completely developed the structures that would have inhibited me from doing so.

It’s not easy, but it’s necessary. Here are some tips:
  • The most effective way you can make change is to take political action, although personal behavioral changes can’t hurt. Most of this crisis is being caused by big corporations and misguided government subsidies, so even if you go plastic-free or electrify your house, CO2 is going to continue being pumped into the atmosphere.
  • If you want to focus on individual action, make a dietary shift towards plants. I’m not telling you to give up on meat completely, or to go completely vegan, and I’m not telling you to do it for moral reasons: the fact is, if we’re going to curb carbon emissions, lowering our agricultural emissions has to happen.
    • If we don’t eat less meat, we will never pull it off, and that’s just a fact. Even just trying out vegetarian or vegan recipes once a week is a great start—and it can be really fun, too! I highly recommend the documentary, Eating our Way to Extinction. It sounds gloomy, but don’t worry, it has a comedy segment.
  • If you want to focus on policy action, start small: write letters to representatives. Research existing initiatives in your city or county. Contact them and get involved—petitions or donations are fine, but personal volunteering is usually more useful.
    • If there are no existing initiatives, research what neighboring localities have done and see if you can copy them. If you’re feeling particularly ambitious, involvement with statewide initiatives is amazing as well! Remember that you have the power to attend city, county, and state meetings and voice your opinion as a citizen, and your representatives will hear you.

Doug Hanneman
Doug Hanneman

Doug Hanneman
2022 Inver Hills Graduate
Climate Change Activist

Inver Hills Commencement 2022

Doug Hanneman was named Inver Hills Outstanding Alumnus of the Year in 2020. Doug was a student at the college in the mid-1970s, studying journalism and human services. He was just one credit short of earning his Associate of Arts (A.A.), a degree he completed in 2022.

Doug served as editor of the South Washington County Bulletin from 1996–2001. He continued his journalism career as editor of the Hutchinson Leader, retiring in 2018. His work at both newspapers garnered National Newspaper Association and Minnesota Newspaper Association awards, including prestigious 1st Place in General Excellence awards at the national level.

Learn more about Doug by reading the Inver Hills News story:

“Doug Hanneman: Inver Hills 2020 Outstanding Alumnus of the Year”

Age: 68
Hometown: Oshkosh, Wisconsin
Current residence: Hutchinson, Minnesota
Inver Hills graduation date: May 2022
Degree earned at Inver Hills: Associate of Arts (A.A.)
Extracurricular activities and clubs at Inver Hills: Inver Hills Alumni Association Board member, Day of Service volunteer, Student Success Day panelist, interested in joining Phi Theta Kappa
Education plans: Considering a bachelor’s degree, but is first completing Inver Hills Climate Change certificate (two courses to go!)
Volunteer activities:
  • Inver Hills Alumni Association Board member
  • Ridgewater College Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Council
  • Minnesota Newspaper Association Journalism Education Committee member
  • Minnesota NewsMedia Institute Board member
  • Minnesota Citizen Journalism U instructor
  • Minnesota Newspaper Museum (State Fair) volunteer
  • McLeod County Toward Zero Deaths Safe Roads Coalition Executive Board member
  • Minnesota Toward Zero Deaths CarFit technician
  • Hutchinson Connects Committee member
  • Friends of the Luce Line Trail West Board member
  • RiverSong Music Festival stage crew member
  • Hutchinson Arts & Crafts Festival volunteer
  • Hutchinson Belonging Begins With Us/Welcoming Week Committee member

Three words that describe you as a climate change activist:

Doug Hanneman on journalism’s role in illuminating the climate crisis: “As a newspaper reporter and editor, I see myself as an observer and reporter of facts surrounding climate change. In the broadest definition of the word, all journalists might be considered ‘activists’ because they actively seek information and report it to others. They select and craft the messages that they share with their audience.

Day of Service Fall 2022

“In regard to climate change, the news media has largely been accused of being complacent ‘while the planet burns.’ I see myself as having a role in diminishing that complacency, especially in rural Minnesota.

“In recent years, the climate crisis has finally begun to receive the coverage it deserves mainly through large media covering mainly urban audiences. Now it’s time to bring this sense of urgency to rural areas through local media.

“Rural areas tend to see a lot of ‘greenwashing,’ particularly when it comes to specific forms of renewable energy. As interrogators, journalists have a responsibility to dispel misinformation that is being spread by companies and policymakers engaged in greenwashing.

Inver Hills Drive-Thru Graduation 2021

“After completing Inver Hills’ Introduction to Climate Change Studies course, I joined Covering Climate Now, a collaborative of 460 journalists and newsrooms around the globe that have made climate change a critical part of their news coverage.

“CCNow, founded in 2019, explains on its website that it works ‘to produce more informed and urgent climate stories, to make climate a part of every beat in the newsroom—from politics and weather to business and culture—and to drive a public conversation that creates an engaged public.’

“Mindful of the media’s responsibility to inform the public and hold power to account, we advise newsrooms, share best practices, and provide reporting resources that help journalists ground their coverage in science while producing stories that resonate with audiences.”

Learn more by visiting:

Covering Climate Now

Doug Hanneman Climate Change Q & A

What inspired you to take the Introduction to Climate Change Studies course at Inver Hills?

I had just completed two environmental science courses at Inver Hills and was surprised to learn that I actually enjoy that area of study. Being in the news business for more than 40 years, I always thrived on covering issues with a sense of urgency, and perhaps no other issue besides nuclear disarmament has the same sense of global urgency as climate change.

What did you like best about the course?

Climate Change Studies is a blend of so many fields of study: environmental science, astronomy, geology, anthropology, sociology, psychology, business, and others. The interconnectedness of all these fields is what interested me a great deal.

And of course, I was impressed by the stories of individuals and small groups of people who have made great strides to bring heightened awareness of climate change. Learning how to talk to others about climate change, especially with those who deny or dismiss it, is an important part of this class.

What important information about climate change did you learn during the course?

We need to deal with it now—we have no time to waste, and the sooner we deal with it, the less harm that will come to humans and millions of other living species on our beautiful planet. We’ve already lost way too much time because of humans’ addictions to fossil fuels and lifestyles that involve the release of massive quantities of greenhouse gases.

We need to learn we all can enjoy healthful, satisfying lives by consuming fewer natural resources. And it will still be okay to enjoy an occasional steak or hamburger, and it will be okay to travel and do many of the other things we already enjoy.

But we need to understand the impacts our lifestyles have on the planet, and we need to adapt to ways that are less damaging to the environment. And I am optimistic that it can be done.

Why do you feel strongly about finding ways to combat climate change?

I want the planet to be healthy for my children, grandchildren, and many generations to come. I learned from this course that a lot of young people don’t have the same hope I have. Perhaps I’m a bit Panglossian, but we need a lot of hope if future generations are going to enjoy many of the things that we take for granted today.

Things like clean water, delicious and nourishing foods, safe homes, and all the freedoms we enjoy. If we don’t make changes, those future generations can expect more famines, more wars, more climate migration, and other stressors and tragedies that can be avoided with careful planning and interventions. We need to adapt now.

What advice would you give people who are unconcerned about climate change?
Katharine Hayhoe

I’d encourage them to ask a lot of questions, and not be satisfied with simple assumptions they’ve heard from others about climate change. Ask for data. Ask for science that supports the data. And then they need to listen carefully to the answers given by those who understand climate change.

And after hearing those answers, they need to ask more questions. Climate scientist, Katharine Hayhoe, says we’ve already wasted too much time by not talking enough about climate change. We need to talk about it with everyone, all the time. Eventually, more people will understand the truth about climate change. More talk will result in more action.

Rachel Wood with her dog, Panini

Rachel F. Wood
2022 Inver Hills Graduate
Climate Change Activist

Rachel Wood

Rachel Wood graduated from Inver Hills last year and is enrolled at Metro State with plans to earn her bachelor’s degree in archival science or library science. She is also looking forward to pursuing a master’s degree in one of these fields.

Rachel took the Introduction to Climate Change Studies knowing she would benefit from the class because she had concerns about the climate crisis. She left the class far more knowledgeable, alarmed, and geared up to actively join the battle against climate change.

Age: 29
Hometown: South Minneapolis, Minnesota
Current residence: South Minneapolis, Minnesota
High school and year graduated: Rachel’s life circumstances led to a different high school experience, but she wanted to earn her diploma; she went to an online school called Minnesota Virtual High School (MNVHS); her graduating class was in 2011 and she received her high school diploma in 2014 at age 21
Inver Hills graduation date: Fall 2022
Degree earned at Inver Hills: Associates of Arts (A.A.); “Slow and steady wins the race,” Rachel said.
Extracurricular activities and clubs at Inver Hills: Participated in work study helping at the Food and Resource Center on campus
Other degrees, diplomas, and/or certifications: Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) certification
College education plans: Enrolled at Metropolitan State University; exploring individualized studies route for her B.A.; would love to pursue a master’s degree
Career plans: Exploring the possibility of archival science and/or library science. “They are different, but have some similarities,” Rachel said.

Three words that describe you as a climate change activist:

Rachel Wood Climate Change Q & A

Rachel Wood
What inspired you to take the Introduction to Climate Change Studies course at Inver Hills?

The course met one of the last credit requirements that I needed to graduate, and I wanted to pick something I was curious about. I had a lot of questions and concerns about our climate, so I knew I would get something important out of it.

What did you like best about the course? 

What I liked best about this course was learning from Erica Wood. She is highly intelligent and was able to teach a great online course that was comprehensible. I knew I would like the class, but I didn’t expect to become fascinated. It was exciting and terrifying learning new things that I wasn’t privy to before.

What important information about climate change did you learn during the course?

I learned so many things. I think the most important concept was the varying forms of positive and negative feedback loops that contribute to the climate change problem and how important it is to stop/reduce these vicious cycles. A positive feedback loop is an amplified response (not good).

An example of a positive feedback loop would be:

As climate warms→ evaporation increases→ increasing the amount of water vapor in the air→ increasing global warming → as climate warms→ etc.

Why do you feel strongly about finding ways to combat climate change?

I feel strongly because humans are rushing toward our own mass extinction, faster than in any other primordial time. Earth doesn’t need us and can persist through extreme climates and events. Humans can’t live without a hospitable climate on Earth.

What advice would you give people who are unconcerned about climate change?

I would encourage them to look at the science (not cherry-picked). Data tells no lies. The data shows that climate change is everyone’s problem.

Learn more about Climate Change Studies at Inver Hills by contacting:

Erica Wood
Geology Faculty
Inver Hills Community College

Inver Hills Community College
Virtual Visit

Climate Change resources

Solution: Wind power

NASA: Global Climate Change: Vital Signs of the Planet
IPCC Sixth Assessment Report: Impacts, Adaption and Vulnerability
United Nations: Climate Action: What Is Climate Change?
The Royal Society: The Basics of Climate Change
NOAA: Climate change impacts
World Health Organization: Climate Change
The World Bank: Climate Change

Challenge: Flooding

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