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Online course

Energy, the Environment and Our Future

Learn where we get our energy from today and why we need to change our energy system now, to avoid future changes to our climate.

What’s the difference between a free course and an upgraded course?

Free:

  • Access to the course for its duration + 14 days, regardless of when you join (this includes access to articles, videos, peer review steps, quizzes)
  • No access to course tests
  • No certificate

Upgraded:

  • Unlimited access to the course, for as long as it exists on FutureLearn (this includes access to articles, videos, peer review steps, quizzes)
  • Access to course tests
  • A Certificate of Achievement when you complete the course

Find out more

Energy, the Environment and Our Future

Why join the course?

Our ancestors burned trees and whales far faster than nature produced more, gaining good from the energy but causing big problems. Today we burn fossil fuels, which allows us to live well, but will cause even bigger problems in the future.

This online course will show the immense value we get from energy, where we get most of our energy today, why the energy system must change eventually, and why a faster change would help us. What topics will you cover? + Why Energy Matters + What is Energy? + Oil, Coal and Natural Gas + Drilling, Fracking and Reserves + The Physics of Global Warming + The History of Global Warming What will you achieve? By the end of the course, you will be able to:

  • Identify both natural and human-driven systems and processes that produce energy and affect the environment
  • Explain basic scientific concepts related to energy in language that non-scientists can understand
  • Discuss how global warming from fossil fuel use has arisen historically
  • Summarize how the climate has always changed and how humans are driving changes today, which will have large and long-lasting impacts if we don’t shift our energy system

What topics will you cover?

  • Stories of our ancestors showing the immense value, but real difficulties of energy use including burning trees and whale oil
  • Creative ways our ancestors dealt with drought and how rain impacted population
  • How we talk about energy, what is it, and how much of it we use
  • The long process of how the Earth makes fossil fuels
  • US Energy use and the US economy
  • The formation and origins of fossil fuels (oil, coal and gas)
  • The physics of global warming and the history of carbon dioxide
  • Climate models using natural and anthropogenic forcings
  • The history of global warming including The Great Dying, PETM and the Ice Ages
  • The Projection Project and the impacts of increased CO2 on the planet

When would you like to start?

  • Date to be announced

What will you achieve?

By the end of the course, you'll be able to...

  • Identify both natural and human-driven systems and processes that produce energy and affect the environment
  • Explain basic scientific concepts related to energy in language that non-scientists can understand
  • Discuss how global warming from fossil-fuel use has arisen historically
  • Summarize how the climate has always changed and how humans are driving the ongoing changes, which will have large and long-lasting impacts if we don’t shift our energy system

Who is the course for?

This course is designed for anyone at any level, with an interest in how energy, the environment and our future are interrelated.

Who will you learn with?

Who developed the course?

The Pennsylvania State University is a leading public research university located in State College, Pennsylvania.

What’s the difference between a free course and an upgraded course?

Free:

  • Access to the course for its duration + 14 days, regardless of when you join (this includes access to articles, videos, peer review steps, quizzes)
  • No access to course tests
  • No certificate

Upgraded:

  • Unlimited access to the course, for as long as it exists on FutureLearn (this includes access to articles, videos, peer review steps, quizzes)
  • Access to course tests
  • A Certificate of Achievement when you complete the course

Find out more

Get extra benefits, upgrade this course. For $84 (+ shipping) you'll get:

Unlimited access

Upgrading will mean you get unlimited access to the course.

Image access mobile

  • Take the course at your own pace
  • Refer to the material at any point in future

If you’re taking a course for free you have access to the course for its duration + 14 days, regardless of when you join. If you upgrade the course you have access for as long as the course exists on FutureLearn.

Access to tests

When you upgrade you’ll have access to any tests during the course.

Image tests mobile

  • Validate your learning
  • Ensure you have mastered the material
  • Qualify for a certificate

To receive a Certificate of Achievement you need to take any tests and score over 70%. You don’t get access to tests if you choose to take a course for free.

Certificate of Achievement

Upgrading means you’ll receive a Certificate of Achievement when you complete the course.

Image certificate mobile

  • Prove your success when applying for jobs or courses
  • Celebrate your hard work
  • Display on your LinkedIn or CV

To receive a Certificate of Achievement you need to mark 90% of the steps on the course as complete, and score over 70% on any course tests.