Climate change refers to long-term changes to the Earth's climate, such as an increase in average temperatures, more frequent extreme weather events, a shift in precipitation patterns, and a rise in sea levels. Although natural forces, such as volcanic eruptions, can affect the climate, the spike in average temperatures in recent decades is chiefly driven by human activities. For example, deforestation and the use of fossil fuels pollute the air and change the climate. Since the Industrial Revolution, the planet has experienced an average temperature increase of two degrees Fahrenheit.
Learning about climate change allows you to personally reassess your lifestyle and make environmentally-friendly adjustments. For example, you could rely more on renewable sources of energy or cut down on meat consumption. Despite any small changes you make in your own life, addressing climate change will require a societal effort. With that in mind, you can use your knowledge to advocate for eco-friendly policies and business practices.
Learning about climate change can also help prepare you for a career in the renewable energy industry. You can train to work in a position such as a wind turbine technician or solar sales consultant. Alternatively, you can begin to work as a climatologist, creating models and forecasts that alert policymakers and communities about changes to the environment.
Courses on Coursera can teach the science behind climate change, including the role of greenhouse gas emissions and the impact of global warming on ecosystems. Many courses also focus on actionable steps, such as developing sustainable cities and making adjustments to the global food system.
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