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Educating a climate-ready workforce
Climate careers platform Terra.do prepares professionals to take on climate risk
February 24, 2023

Over 50% of the world’s GDP is being disrupted—think: energy, transportation, agriculture—or transformed—think: finance, construction, manufacturing—by climate. For our civilization to adapt, much of the workforce needs to learn climate skills, build new professional networks, and find new kinds of work in this decade. Climate careers platform Terra.do aims to help develop this new workforce through intensive climate change learning programs, career growth services, and job fairs to get 100 million people working on climate change by 2030.

Terra.do’s 12-week “Climate Change: Learning for Action” course teaches the foundations of climate change and its global impacts through 20 asynchronous lectures and weekly lab groups. 

What the course lacked was a way to bring the numbers 1.5, 2, and 3 degrees of warming to life and to help fellows visualize what the impacts of those numbers could look like in their communities. Terra.do partnered with Probable Futures to fill these learning gaps. This collaboration includes a guest lecture for every Terra.do cohort by Probable Futures Executive Director Alison Smart and one week’s lab session dedicated to a deep dive into the Probable Futures interactive maps.

We can throw facts and figures at people all we want. But when you can see a map of what things might be and then explain what that would really mean for you, that is very, very clear.

In her guest lecture, Smart zooms out to the history of global temperature 100 million years ago to examine the link between climate stability and civilization. This context helps Terra.do’s fellows understand the risk inherent in our current rate of climate change and make connections between the predictions made by climate science and their own lives and professions. 

In their lab sessions, fellows work in groups to explore the interactive maps. Focusing on their local region, fellows examine different warming scenarios and climate impacts in detail. All of the fellows then convene and share what they learned to get a broad view of what various regions might face in a warming world. 

Both Smart’s talk and the use of the maps have really helped people understand one of the points we’re driving home in the course: What is the difference between warming of 1, 1.5, or 3 degrees? Using Probable Futures’s maps makes that so clear. People can look at where they live and understand what that might mean for them.

Feedback on this portion of the “Learning for Action” course suggests that fellows come away with the ability to frame climate change in new ways, communicate more effectively about its risks, and connect real-world impacts to degrees of warming. As these fellows transition into the climate workforce, these skills will be a new part of their daily tasks.

Probable Futures has been incredibly useful. Smart’s talk helps them understand climate change, but it really helps them also know how to communicate about it. And the maps are hands-on for the fellows. They lead to really robust discussions, which has been fantastic for us.