The 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference, better known as COP26, wraps up this week. We’re left with lingering questions. Are the biggest polluters willing and able to cap their greenhouse gas emissions? And more existentially: how long do we have? What’s going to happen? How can we cope? At JSTOR Daily, we’re constantly acquiring new content that looks at the climate crisis from different angles, but in the meantime, these previously published stories consider what the past has to teach us and what the future may bring. We hope it will help foster dialogue among all our readers, whom we consider students of the world. As always, the stories here and the underlying scholarship are free to everyone. We’ll be updating this syllabus and welcome reader suggestions for coverage.

Lessons from History about Global Warming

John Tyndall's setup for measuring radiant heat absorption by gases

How 19th Century Scientists Predicted Global Warming

Today’s headlines make climate change seem like a recent discovery. But Eunice Newton Foote and others have been piecing it together for centuries.
Planet Earth from Space

A Historic Look at Climate Change Research

Plant ecologist Charles F. Cooper wrote prescient and succinct words on the topic of climate change back in 1978.
Salmo trutta (Brown trout)

To Study Today’s Ecosystems, Look to History

An unlikely source of data about the decline of trout in modern Spain: a book from the 1850s.
Charles David Keeling & George W. Bush, 2001

How Charles Keeling Measured the Rise of Carbon Dioxide

The climate scientist created a new method to measure atmospheric carbon dioxide. It's still used today.
Sans Dessus Dessous by Jules Verne

How Early Sci-Fi Authors Imagined Climate Change

A century before the modern “cli-fi” genre, many authors envisioned unsettling worlds shaped by man-made climate chaos.

Witnessing the Ecological Effects of Climate Change

A Spring Peeper rests casually on a garden flower.

Are Peepers Starting to Peep Earlier?

The call of the common frog species Pseudacris crucifer is a reliable marker of spring. Will climate change affect that?
An autumn leaf on a branch

Will We Lose Fall Foliage to Climate Change?

The brilliant hues of autumn are created by a variety of factors that shift year by year. A warming planet is already one of them.
New York upper Eastside looking south flooded

New York City, Underwater

Climate change is transforming the Big Apple. How long will it be until America’s largest city is all but wiped off the map?
Mycorhizae fungus

Climate Change, Fungal Change

Climate change is having an effect on the fungal communities in the soil that trees and other plants depend on. 
A bag of coffee beans

Environmental Challenges Ahead for Coffee Beans

The issues aren’t limited to extreme weather events or pest attacks.
Tunnel View Point at Yosemite National Park

Will National Parks Disappear Due to Climate Change?

Temperatures and droughts have spiked at much higher rates in parks than elsewhere.
During late twilight in the Baobab trees

Africa’s Mighty Baobabs

Sub-Saharan Africa's iconic baobab trees are experiencing die-offs at an alarming rate. What makes these distinctive trees so unique?
Climate change wine

Climate Change Vs. Your Wine

One crop in particular is likely to have problems as climate change progresses. Savor that glass of rosé, for as the climate changes wine grapes will be among the first to suffer.
Sea bass

Will Fish Lose Their Sense of Smell in Acidic Oceans?

Increasing levels of dissolved CO2 disrupt fish’s olfactory skills, study finds.
Rings of a tree

What Tree Rings Tell Us About the Climate

Tree rings provide scientists with helpful clues regarding the planet's climate patterns, past and present.

Weathering the Emotional Storm

A protester at the Global Climate Strike, December 6, 2019

Coping with Climate Anxiety

A psychologist suggests ways of giving young people hope for the future of the planet—and themselves.
Photograph: Icicles hang off the  State Highway 195 sign on February 18, 2021 in Killeen, Texas.

Source: Joe Raedle/Getty

Extreme Cold and Public Opinion on Climate Change

To some, the idea that the Earth is warming seems incompatible with how they experience cold weather events.
UN Climate Change Conference COP21 in Paris on 30 November 2015. From left to the right: Enrique Peña Nieto, François Hollande, Angela Merkel and Michelle Bachelet.

How We Perceive Climate Change: A Global Analysis

A country to country analysis of how global populations perceive the threat of climate change.

Human Impacts of Climate Change

Sierra Tarahumara

Where Drug Trafficking and Climate Change Collide

With mounting pressure from cartels and worsening environmental conditions, Mexico’s Indigenous Rarámuri communities face a fraught future.
Photograph: Barbed Wire Fence in Jail.

Source: Getty

Climate Change and the Criminal Justice System

Climate change will affect prison infrastructure, the kinds of crimes committed, and defense arguments made in court, according to one legal scholar.
A man looking at land affected by drought

Climate Change and Syria’s Civil War

Some scholars and scientists are calling climate change the invisible player in Syria's ongoing civil war. But is that too simplistic an explanation?
A person holding a newspaper on fire

How Language and Climate Connect

While we’re losing biological diversity, we’re also losing linguistic and cultural diversity at the same time. This is no coincidence.
Factories Emitting Pollution

Why Climate Change Is a National Security Issue

Viewing climate change through a national security lens makes a certain amount of sense -- but it won't entirely solve the problem.
dehydration and climate change

Climate Change is Turning Dehydration into a Deadly Epidemic

A mysterious kidney disease is striking down laborers across the world and climate change is making it worse. Meet the doctors who are trying to stop it.
Photo credit: Migrants standing in line to embark CASTEL VERDE at a wharf in Trieste, Italy before departing for Australia, 1953-1954. (Australian National Maritime Museum)

Climate Change and Migration

Multiple research bodies show how climate change and natural disasters cause migration and refugees crises.

Climate and Gender: Too Few Males?

Could climate change lead to fewer males?

Resilience and Glimmers of Hope

tree with a growing cacao beans on the branches

Will Chocolate Survive Climate Change? Actually, Maybe

The forecast has been bad for domesticated cacao. But some environments in Peru might hold the key to the future of the world's sweet tooth.
Mount Saint Helens, United States

Could a Trillion Trees Really Save the Planet?

Scientists think that planting trees could reverse climate change, but planting trees isn't as simple as it sounds.

Climate Change’s Winners?

Climate change may be helping some species thrive. But as evidenced by cephalopods and swans, where one species wins, another loses.
A cow in a field

Can Cows Help Mitigate Climate Change? Yes, They Can!

Livestock emit greenhouse gases. They also can sequester carbon and boost biodiversity.

Can Re-Clamming Our Harbors Keep Superstorms at Bay?

Hurricanes like Sandy destroy coastlines. Clams and oysters help keep them together.
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Geoengineering: A Real Weapon Against Climate Change?

Does geoengineering deserve stronger consideration as a strategy to combat climate change?
Mount Agung volcano

Can a Single Volcano Cool the Earth?

Even one volcano can have impacts that affect the planet. There have been eruptions that affected the temperature over the entire hemisphere.
tiny fur tree growing after forest fire

It’s the End of the World as We Know It. Is there Any Room for Optimism?

Climate scientists tend to be optimistic and have faith that humanity can engineer our way out of the climate change we’ve created.
Paul Lussier

On the Side of Climate Solutions: An Interview with Paul Lussier

Paul Lussier on how to energize people, work with business, and develop solution-focused rhetoric and strategy before it’s too late.

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