Prerequisites

Basic high school science recommended

About this course

In public discussions, climate change is a highly controversial topic. However, in the scientific community, there is little controversy with 97% of climate scientists concluding humans are causing global warming.

  • Why the gap between the public and scientists?
  • What are the psychological and social drivers of the rejection of the scientific consensus?
  • How has climate denial influenced public perceptions and attitudes towards climate change?

This course examines the science of climate science denial.

We will look at the most common climate myths from “global warming stopped in 1998” to “global warming is caused by the sun” to “climate impacts are nothing to worry about.”

We’ll find out what lessons are to be learnt from past climate change as well as better understand how climate models predict future climate impacts. You’ll learn both the science of climate change and the techniques used to distort the science.

With every myth we debunk, you’ll learn the critical thinking needed to identify the fallacies associated with the myth. Finally, armed with all this knowledge, you’ll learn the psychology of misinformation. This will equip you to effectively respond to climate misinformation and debunk myths.

This isn’t just a climate MOOC; it’s a MOOC about how people think about climate change.

What you'll learn

  • How to recognise the social and psychological drivers of climate science denial
  • How to better understand climate change: the evidence that it is happening, that humans are causing it and the potential impacts
  • How to identify the techniques and fallacies that climate myths employ to distort climate science
  • How to effectively debunk climate misinformation
WEEK 1: Understanding The Climate Controversy
During the first week of the course, we introduce the course content, interact with each other and complete an introductory survey. The week continues with an exploration of political consensus, the drivers and psychology of climate science denial and an overview of the controversy surrounding this topic.

WEEK 2: Global Warming Is Happening
In week two, we will look at the indicators of global warming and myths related to temperature and glaciers. 

WEEK 3: We Are Causing Gobal Warming 
Week three focuses on the ways in which humans cause climate change and the myths associated with the greenhouse effect and the rise in carbon dioxide.

WEEK 4: The Past Tells Us About The Future
This week looks at the history of climate change in order to model future climate change. We also address myths related to models.

WEEK 5: We Are Feeling The Impacts Of Climate Change
Week five covers climate feedbacks and the impacts of climate change on the environment, society and the weather.

WEEK 6 and 7: Responding to Denial
The final weeks of the course look more closely at the psychology of science denial and debunking techniques. We also complete a peer assessment that asks students to practice debunking strategies on real myths that can be found in today’s media.

Approach: mini-lectures, video interviews, quizzes, activities, a peer assessed writing assignment, and readings.

Meet your instructors

Learner testimonials

Fascinating course. The material applies to many other fields, and has led me to think about some of my beliefs and why I am slow to examine opposing views at times. The course description clearly states it is not about the science of climate change, but examines the science behind denial.