Weekly study3 hours
Our Changing Climate: Past, Present and Future
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Since early humans first moved out of Africa, the world’s climate has had a continual impact on our history. Now, the climate itself is being shaped by civilisation.
This free online course from the University of Reading will take you on this fascinating journey through time. Over five weeks, we’ll explore how climate shapes the way we live, the food we eat, the water we drink and the cities we live in.
From the fundamental science of the atmosphere to the social, economic and political consequences of climate change, our expert archaeologists, scientists, geographers and engineers will guide you.
We’ll start with an overview of the climatic system, how it’s changed over time and how it’s predicted to change in future. Then, we’ll focus on the impact of climate change on our lives. Finally, we’ll take a look at policy - why it’s needed, what’s been done and what’s next.
Together, we’ll find out what climate change means for you and the part we play in the climate of the future. Looking back, we’ll see examples of inspiring innovation and resilience, and ask: can our ingenuity see us through the challenges that lie ahead?
You can find out more in Maria Noguer’s post for the FutureLearn blog: “2015: a pivotal year for creating a resilient society”.
Week 1 Climate Change: Observing, Understanding and Modelling
Week 1 provided an overview of the climate system, how this has changed in the past and how it is predicted to change in the future. It presented an insight into the natural and man-made drivers of climate change and the impact that we are already seeing in the world around us.
Week 2 Climate Change and Water
Week 2 considered the connection between our fresh water, a rare and precious resource, and our changing climate. It looked at how climate change affects rainfall, flood risk and water supply in the context of other non-climatic drivers.
Week 3 Climate Change and Food
Week 3 explored how the production, access, cost and consumption of food are intimately connected with climate. It looked at the effects that climate change has on food and the contribution of the food system to climate change.
Week 4 Climate Change and Cities
Week 4 studied the inexorable pull of the cities, and their surprising vulnerability to extreme weather and climate events. However cities are also vibrant hubs of innovation, so the course considered community development examples.
Week 5 The Politics of Climate Change
Week 5 considered how people around the world, from the international level to the local community, are responding to the challenge of all times that is our changing climate.
Learning on this course
You can take this self-guided course and learn at your own pace. On every step of the course you can meet other learners, share your ideas and join in with active discussions in the comments.
What will you achieve?
By the end of the course, you‘ll be able to...
- Understand the causes of climate change in the distant past and the main drivers of climate change today.
- Describe how climate change is impacting the world around us and the impacts that are expected in the future.
- Assess how climate change affects our water environment.
- Consider how our climate is affecting the production, access, cost and consumption of food.
- Analyse how cities are affecting our climate and at the same time understand the vulnerabilities of cities to extremes of weather and climate. We will also see the role of cities as innovators.
- Evaluate how the international climate process works and see how people are responding to the issue of climate change.
Who is the course for?
You don’t need any previous experience or qualifications to take part in this course.