Climate changes presents the greatest challenge that the world faces today. The catastrophic consequences of unmitigated climate change have brought it to the fore of global political discourse. Several free online courses provide insight into the science and politics of climate change. Here are my recommendations: The Global Climate Change: Economics, Science and Politics course by the MIT Sloan School of management introduces scientific, economic, and ecological issues underlying the threat of global climate change, and the institutions engaged in negotiating an international response. The Global Warming I: The Science and Modeling of Climate Change course by the University of Chicago explains the science of climate change (suitable for an audience without much scientific background). The International Politics and Climate Change course by MIT discusses the politicisation of the natural environment and the how the international community responded to evidence on climate change. The Climate-Energy Challenge by Harvard University more broadly reviews the scientific evidence for climate change and identifies its impacts on human societies and natural ecosystems.
The Electric Power Sector
Electricity is one of the most important technological innovations achieved by mankind. It accounts for majority of our domestic energy consumption and it is playing a greater role in transport and industry due to the nascent energy transition . The Introduction to Electric Power Systems course by MIT discusses the electromagnetics and circuit theory behind electric power systems. A more holistic view is provided by Engineering, Economics and Regulation of the electric Power Sector course. Here, an interdisciplinary approach is taken to link the engineering, economic, environmental and regulatory aspects of electric power systems operation. For more insight on electric utilities, the Electric Utilities Fundamentals and Future course narrates the technical, structural and regulatory history of utilities and their evolution to address emerging challenges in the energy industry.
Energy and Climate
Energy, harnessed via fossil fuels, has been the engine of modern civilisation. The resulting fossil fuel-derived emissions have led to global warming, and consequently climate change. Understanding the extent to which fossil fuels underpin our society is essential to the scale of the transition that must occur in our energy systems. The Our Energy Future course by the University of California, San Diego provides an overview of global energy consumption and the 21st issues that energy — including food and fuels — face. The Global Energy and Climate Policy course by SOAS explores the interrelations between energy and climate, and potential futures for the global energy system in a carbon-constrained world. The Energy Within Environmental Constraints course by Harvard University addresses the crucial challenge of meeting future energy demand while avoiding further environmental damage and maintaining energy affordability. Energy 101: The Big Picture is a dilute summary of the previously described.
Energy Policy and Economics
The importance of energy in our society means energy policy is a prominent feature of political discourse. The Politics and Economics of International Energy course by Sciences Po charts the evolution of the oil and gas industry, its importance in international relations and how potential developments in the industry may affect relations. The Energy Economics course by MIT explores the theories behind energy demand, supply and markets, and the policies affecting the latter. Energy Decisions, Markets and Policies further details how energy production, distribution and consumption are determined and experienced. The Fundamentals of Global Energy Business course by the University of Colorado explains the integrated markets for for primary energy, and the factors determining the development of global energy resources.
Carbon dioxide emitted due to the burning of fossil fuels for energy has greatly contributed to global warming. To mitigate the devastating consequences of climate change, a reduced dependence on fossil fuels has been called for. To meet our energy needs, without compromising our environment means that sustainable forms of energy must be deployed rapidly in the global energy system. The Physics of Energy course by MIT introduces the scientific principles behind different types of sustainable energy technologies. The Introduction to Sustainable Energy course covers technical analyses of sustainable and conventional energy production technologies, and the economic and sociopolitical implications of their deployment in the energy system. For those interested in the fundamental thermodynamics, chemistry and transport processes of energy conversion technologies, the Fundamentals of Advanced Energy Conversion by MIT is recommended.