Understanding Climate Change


Met Office – Impacts of Climate Change

A simple, short video that gives an overview of the science of climate change, its potential impacts and the things we need to do to slow down global warming.

The Citizens’ Assembly Introduction to Climate Change

In 2019, the UK held its first ever ‘Citizen’s Assembly’. As part of the background briefing, Professor Joanna Haigh (Imperial College, London) and Professor Ed Hawkins (University of Reading) gave brief (15 minutes each) overviews of the science and impacts of climate change. Professor Haigh’s is embedded below; you can find Professor Hawkins’ here. (Cool fact: Ed Hawkins is the person who introduced the ‘warming stripes’)

A visualisation of global temperatures 1880 – 2020 (NASA)

140 years of global temperatures shown on a map – put together by the NASA, one of the agencies providing global data.

What if climate change is real? (Katharine Hayhoe)

But climate’s always been changing … I’ve seen data showing that global warming stopped between 2001 and 2011 … isn’t it all about the sun?

If you’ve heard these statements before and don’t know how to respond, you might find this video helpful. In an engaging way, Katharine Hayhoe goes through often-cited misconceptions, giving the data to show what’s really true.



Six Degrees: Our Future on a Hotter Planet by Mark Lynas (Harper Perennial, 2008) — When this appeared it was a wake-up call, helping people to understand what the somewhat abstract concerns about “two degrees” or “three degrees” of warning mean. Lynas sets out scenarios for everything up to six degrees based on extensive reading of scientific research. Compelling and still a clear call to action.

The Future We Choose: Surviving the Climate Crisis by Cristiana Figueres and Tom Rivett-Carnac (Bonnier, 2020) — Cristiana Figueres headed the UNFCC at the time of the Paris Agreement and is widely regarded as one of the most effective climate diplomats ever. Here she and a colleague look at the world we’re creating and the world we must create to survive, and explore how we get to the mindsets that inform and enable the latter.

There is no Planet B: A Handbook for the Make or Break Years by Mike Berners-Lee (CUP, 2019) — Mike Berners-Lee’s books manage to take big issues, presents the questions surrounding them and offer possible ways towards positive change … in a very light-touch Q and A format. A terrific introduction.

Don’t Even Think About It: Why Our Brains Are Wired to Ignore Climate Change by George Marshall (Bloomsbury, 2015) — Scientists long felt that if people just had more information, they would act differently. But having more information isn’t all it takes. George Marshall’s fascinating book draws on the social sciences to explain why our brains find it hard to respond to climate change as it’s currently framed … and what we might do to increase the possibility of change.

The Uninhabitable Earth: A Story of the Future by David Wallace Wells (Penguin, 2019) (also available free in its original article format) —This started off as a famous – and controversial – magazine piece. For some, it’s a clarion call, making clear the stakes of the climate emergency. For others, it’s overwhelming and perhaps not the best spur to action. Take a look – and make up your own mind



The advent of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) has made it possible to learn about topics from experts around the world … at your own pace and in your own home. The courses below will help you gain an introduction to the science of climate change and climate impacts.

What is climate change? (University of Colorado-Boulder, Coursera) – beginner level, 6 hours to complete

Our earth’s future (American Museum of Natural History – Coursera) – beginner level, 8 hours to complete

Climate Change: The Science (University of Exeter – FutureLearn) – beginner level, 12 hours to complete