Global Environmental Problems: Surveying the Human Footprint

This course will use broad, geographic discussions and case studies to help students understand environmental problems.
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  • Lectures 14
  • Length 4 hours
  • Skill Level Intermediate Level
  • Languages English
  • Includes Lifetime access
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    Available on iOS and Android
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About This Course

Published 6/2014 English

Course Description

This course explores the environment through the lens of human influence. We will discuss human behavior as it relates to the treatment and use of the environment, from a geographical perspective. We will focus on spatial dimensions of global environmental issues, which includes Earth's subsystems, population growth, land-use change, industry and uneven development, specific examples of the human footprint, and climate change.

What are the requirements?

  • Other than a good internet connection, the ability to read and download pdfs, and an open mind, nothing is required.

What am I going to get from this course?

  • This course will provide students with a deeper understanding of anthropogenic influences on Earth.
  • By the end of this course, students will be able to identify major causes of climate change.
  • By the end of this course, students will be able to identify potential solutions to problems we are collectively facing, this century.

Who is the target audience?

  • This course is for anyone interested in understanding our changing climate and the role of humans in that change.
  • Some experiences in reading graphs would be beneficial, but not required.

What you get with this course?

Not for you? No problem.
30 day money back guarantee.

Forever yours.
Lifetime access.

Learn on the go.
Desktop, iOS and Android.

Get rewarded.
Certificate of completion.


Section 1: An Introduction to Global Environmental Problems

This opening lecture will describe what geography is and why it provides an excellent platform in which to discuss global environmental problems.


This lecture examines Garrett Hardin's landmark 1968 essay, "Tragedy of the Commons," and identifies how it helps to put many of the discussions addressing global environmental problems in context.

Section 2: Understanding Earth's Systems

This lecture will explore how Earth receives and distributes energy, as well as the role of the four subsystems and how they interact to create a natural order.


This lecture highlights the role of carbon and carbon cycles on Earth and discusses the "natural state" of ecosystems and biodiversity on the planet.

Section 3: Humans and Land-use Change

This lecture will examine how human population increase has contributed to environmental problems, as well as how uneven development has given environmental problems two faces.


This lecture illuminates the scale of agriculture on the planet surface, while discussing the environmental impacts of such activities, both in developed and developing nations.


This lecture discusses Earth's forest resources and how the reduction of these wooded regions, particularly in the tropics, can and had contributed to global climate problems.


This lecture discussed the urban realm and how it is the epicenter of human activity, creates microclimates, and continues to impact surrounding natural ecosystems.

Section 4: The Human Footprint
9 pages

This presentation highlights some important aspects of anthropogenic pollution, its causes, and what sources contribute to surplus atmospheric carbon.


This lecture briefly explores that various types of waste, waste paradigms, and environmental issues associated with waste.

15 pages

This presentation explores various angles of mining, from what is mined to extraction methods and their side-effects, as well as laws.

13 pages

This presentation outlines the various kinds of fossil fuels used for conventional energy, distinguishes power energy from mobility energy, and highlights the environmental concerns with fossil fuel dependence.


This lecture addresses the myriad of concerns around climate change, discusses some of the basic issues, and sheds light on some of the arguments against global warming.

Section 5: Conclusion
4 pages

This presentation returns to the initial discussion of the Tragedy of the Commons and summarizes how you can use this information to improve our world.

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Instructor Biography

Prof. Brian McCabe, Lecturer at California State University, Fullerton

Hello! My name is Brian McCabe and I am Lecturer at California State University, Fullerton in the Department of Geography and I also teach part time at Irvine Valley College, in the Orange County region of Southern California. Although I mainly teach live classes now, I have extensive experience teaching online courses. My first teaching job was with the University of New Mexico, where I was nominated for the 2009-2010 Outstanding Online Instructor of the Year Award! I believe that online classes can be wonderful vehicles for learning.

Educationally, I earned my Bachelor's degree in Social Sciences from Indiana University and have Master's degrees in Geography (CSUF) and Geographic Education (Arizona State University).

I have not always been an educator. Before becoming an educator, I worked for major companies like Marriott Hotels and Starbucks Coffee Company. Working for these corporations allowed me to live all around the United States, travel the world, and gain real world experiences that continue to inform my instruction, to this day. 

I have published two books. My first is entitled, "Geography is Dead: How America Lost its Sense of Direction (2012)" and an academic textbook entitled,"Regional Conflict and Cooperation: A Framework for Understanding Global Geography (2016)". Both are available online.

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