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Pennsylvania State University

Energy, the Environment, and Our Future

Pennsylvania State University via Coursera

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Join internationally-acclaimed researcher and award-winning educator Richard Alley in an exploration of the role of energy in our environment and our future. Energy use has done great good for humans by giving those in the developed world the equivalent of 100 energy "serfs" to do our bidding, making up roughly 10% of the economy, and powering most of the economy.  However, the unintended consequences of energy use are affecting people around the world and changing the climate in ways that will make life much harder.  Numerous options exist for development of a sustainable energy system that provides a stronger economy, more jobs, and greater security that is more consistent with ethical principles.  The course explores these issues.
“Energy, the Environment, and Our Future” will combine student-centered instructional materials and film clips from the PBS TV series Earth: The Operators' Manual, also hosted by Richard Alley, to tell the history, present, and possible futures of human energy use. 


(Subject to change before course begins)

●    Lesson 1. Sustainability: Why Energy Matters (and Money)  
●    Lesson 2. What is Energy—Units and Such; What we use, and how much good it does  
●    Lesson 3. Oil, Coal and Natural Gas, Drilling and Fracking and Reserves  
●    Lesson 4. Global Warming I—Physics 
●    Lesson 5. Global Warming II—History  and Impacts 
●    Lesson 6. Options: Solar, Wind
●    Lesson 7. Options: Geothermal, Waves, Tides, Nukes
●    Lesson 8. Options: Conservation
●    Lesson 9. Options: Geo-Engineering
●    Lesson 10. Economics
●    Lesson 11. Policy Options
●    Lesson 12. Ethical issues 

Taught by

Richard B. Alley


4.3 rating, based on 3 Class Central reviews

Start your review of Energy, the Environment, and Our Future

  • Antoaneta Letsoalo
    Energy, the Environment and Our Future is a masterful mix of physics, technology, economy, law, politics and ethics with focus on climate change and human behavior. Really complex and complicated issues are presented in a friendly, well illustrated…
  • LauraChurcher
    This was a course that covered a broad range of topics on energy usage and climate change. It requires little or no scientific background and was very collaborative - most of the grading was based on discussions and activities.
  • Anonymous
    Great course. Richard Alley is a fantastic, deep thinking and fun teacher. A republican, but an honest researcher. Superbe course.

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