Climate change caused by emissions of greenhouse gases is one of the major challenges facing society today. In one sense the science is unequivocal – greenhouse gas emissions have already warmed the global climate to unprecedented levels during the last 100 000 years, and society is locked into emissions that will warm the planet at least another degree, perhaps more than three degrees. On the other hand, climate science finds it difficult to provide precise forecasts of what is in store for people. This presents a challenge to those who are developing climate change responses: how do we build resilience to an uncertain future, especially when there are competing demands on public and private finance and human resources?
This course explores these issues – what climate science can and cannot tell us, and how can we respond when there is uncertainty – looking in particular at Cape Town. The course will draw on a long-term research collaboration between the City and UCT in which researchers have worked closely to develop an understanding of the risks climate change poses for the city, and how to respond to these risks. The course begins with a primer on global climate change, followed by contributions that focus on particular issues facing Cape Town.