Sep 30th 2013

Climate Literacy: Navigating Climate Change Conversations (Coursera)

Climate Literacy tackles the scientific and socio-political dimensions of climate change. This course introduces the basics of the climate system, models and predictions, human and natural impacts, mitigative and adaptive responses, and the evolution of climate policy.

This course explores the basic concepts and terms needed to understand the science of climate change, and the available mitigation, adaptation and policy options. By the end of the course, students will be able to:

· Tell the story of our climate, describing how interactions among atmosphere, ocean, land, and life lead to climatic changes at all timescales

· Evaluate the likely effect of historical human fossil emissions and land use changes on Earth’s energy balance and climate.

· Describe the direct observations of climate change in the second half of the 20th century, and articulate the evidence attributing global warming in this time period to human causes.

· Assess the utility - and limits - of climate models to predict global and regional climate change.

· Articulate the demographic, economic, technological and political factors that influence both humans’ impact on the climate and humans’ vulnerability to climate change.

· Express an informed opinion on the scope and urgency of the efforts needed to both mitigate and adapt to climate change.

We provide the scientific basics of climate change paired with the response options (mitigation and adaptation) and policy landscape. Focusing exclusively on the science of climate change may not allow a nuanced understanding of the social implications of this science. Similarly, political or economic analyses of climate change frequently neglect the underlying mechanics behind climate change thresholds, feedbacks, and the potential for abrupt change. This course explores linkages between climate change and other pressing priorities such as human health, poverty, community livability, economic resilience, and other environmental problems (such as biodiversity and water quality). We acknowledge the urgent need to design innovative strategies that realize multiple objectives (or co-benefits) simultaneously, and explore the particular capacity for sustainability and climate change to provide an avenue for achieving these objectives.

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