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The Open University

Could we control our climate?

The Open University via OpenLearn

Overview

Climate crisis is one of the grand challenges we face as a society, but it can be hard to approach as a subject. Not only can the science at times seem dauntingly complex, but the solutions are ...

Syllabus

  • Introduction and guidance
  • Introduction and guidance
  • What is a badged course?
  • How to get a badge
  • Acknowledgements
  • Session1Session 1: What is ‘engineering the climate’?
  • Introduction
  • 1 An engineered world
  • 1.1 What do we really mean by climate engineering?
  • 1.2 Modifying the Earth’s energy budget
  • 2 What is climate?
  • 2.1 Frequency of different types of weather
  • 2.2 Probability of different types of weather
  • Climate is a distribution of different types of weather
  • 2.2 Climate is more than just weather
  • 3 How certain can we be?
  • 3.1 Climate dice
  • 4 What are the challenges?
  • 4.1 Identifying change
  • 4.2 The complexity of climate
  • 5 End-of-session quiz
  • 6 Session 1 summary
  • References
  • Further reading
  • Acknowledgements
  • Session2Session 2: The planet is changing
  • Introduction
  • 1 Trusting sources of information
  • 2 Taking Earth’s temperature
  • 2.1 Global warming through time
  • 2.2 Changes in local and extreme temperatures
  • 3 Changes in Earth’s water
  • 3.1 Rain
  • 3.2 Ice sheets
  • 3.3 Sea ice and snow
  • 3.4 Sea level rise
  • 4 Effects on life
  • 4.1 Natural systems
  • 4.2 Ocean acidification
  • 4.3 Humans – extreme weather
  • 4.4 Humans – climate shifts
  • 5 End-of-session quiz
  • 6 Session 2 summary
  • References
  • Acknowledgements
  • Session3Session 3: We are causing change
  • Introduction
  • 1 Deducing the causes of climate change
  • 1.1 The global whodunnit
  • 1.2 Forcing the global thermostat
  • 2 Radiative forcings – increasing temperature
  • 2.1 The Sun
  • 2.2 Greenhouse gases
  • 3 Radiative forcings – cooling temperatures
  • 3.1 Industrial sulfates
  • 3.2 Volcanic sulfates
  • 4 Internal variability
  • 5 Putting it all together
  • 5.1 Climate models
  • 5.2 Deducing the culprits
  • 6 End-of-session quiz
  • 7 Session 3 summary
  • References
  • Acknowledgements
  • Session4Session 4: Future of the planet
  • Introduction
  • 1 The climate forecast
  • 2 Different possible futures
  • 2.1 Representative Concentration Pathways
  • 2.2 The world’s climate models
  • 3 Predictions for the planet
  • 3.1 Global warming
  • 3.2 Rain, ice and snow
  • 3.3 Sea level rise
  • 4 Predictions for life: Natural systems
  • 4.1 Ocean acidification
  • 5 Predictions for humans
  • 6 End-of-session quiz
  • 7 Session 4 summary
  • References
  • Acknowledgements
  • Session5Session 5: Ways to engineer the climate
  • Introduction
  • 1 Tipping the energy balance scales
  • 2 Energy from the Sun
  • Energy reaching the Earth
  • 3 Reducing energy in
  • 3.1 A solar shield
  • 3.2 Earth’s albedo
  • 3.3 Bright cities
  • 3.4 Fake volcanoes
  • 3.5 Ocean spray
  • 3.6 Other possibilities
  • 4 Increasing energy out
  • 4.2 Ocean fertilisation
  • 4.3 Other possibilities
  • 5 End-of-session quiz
  • 6 Session 5 summary
  • References
  • Acknowledgements
  • Session6Session 6: Design and implementation
  • Introduction
  • 1 Climate models
  • 2 Geoengineering scenarios
  • 2.1 Change in surface air temperature
  • 2.2 Rainfall
  • 3 Field experiments
  • 3.1 Field experiments in SRM
  • 3.2 Field experiments in CDR
  • 4 Geoengineering in the real world
  • 4.1 Real world trials in SRM
  • 4.2 Real world trials in CDR
  • 4.3 Governance and law
  • 5 End-of-session quiz
  • 6 Session 6 summary
  • References
  • Acknowledgements
  • Session7Session 7: Should we engineer the climate?
  • Introduction
  • 1 Choose wisely
  • 1.1 Most effective
  • 1.2 Fastest
  • 1.3 Local effects
  • 1.4 Other aspects of climate change
  • 1.5 Monitoring and control
  • 2 Uncertainties
  • 2.1 Uncertainty in predictions
  • 2.2 Science is not like sausage-making
  • 3 What are the risks?
  • 3.1 Dialling down the sun
  • 3.2 Ozone loss
  • 3.3 Air pollution
  • 3.4 Harmful algal blooms
  • 3.5 Social risks
  • 4 Climate predictions and the media
  • 5 End-of-session quiz
  • 6 Session 7 summary
  • References
  • Acknowledgements
  • Session8Session 8: Will we engineer the climate?
  • Introduction
  • 1 Are climate models wrong?
  • 2 Public opinion
  • 2.1 Culture and risk
  • 2.2 Lukewarmers
  • 2.3 Chemtrailers
  • 3 Climate targets
  • 3.1 Paris Agreement
  • 3.2 Our current path
  • 4 Decision time
  • 4.1 Climate design tool
  • 4.2 Actions
  • 4.3 Consequences
  • 4.4 Your designs
  • 4.5 Your values
  • 5 End-of-session quiz
  • 6 Session 8 summary
  • Where next?
  • Tell us what you think
  • References
  • Acknowledgements

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