I spend time exploring this question in my talk in Birmingham last week. It is, after all, the question that young people are asking and demanding action on. More broadly, the question might sensibly be: What should everyone be learning about climate, as it's a question that has salience well beyond schools. This is the outline of what I said:
There are 4 necessary focuses on climate change:
- what is it?
- how is it different to weather?
- what determines it?
- how and why does it vary from place to place?
- how and why does it change over time?
- natural cycles
- what timescales are involved? etc
- the greenhouse effect / global heating
- global temperature measurements over time
- natural climate cycles
- changes to CO2 levels in the atmosphere since the industrial revolution
- rising sea levels etc
- IPCC extrapolations
- +1.5 / 2.0 / 3.0 degrees?
- ice sheets melt
- sea levels rise
- permafrosts melt
- positive feedback loops
- runaway CO2 rise
- species loss /migration
- economic collapse
- war / famine / disease
- mass migration of people etc.
- lead by example: repent for our past carbon sins
- net zero-carbon emissions by 2050 2040 2030 2025?
- shall we become vegan?
- support other countries to go green
- adopt the Green New Deal at home
This is the most complex of all because it concerns political issues and values.