Our Changing Climate – extra activity

For the last four weeks, the University of Reading and the Walker Institute have been running a Massively Open Online Course (MOOC) entitled Our Changing Climate: Past, Present and Future. This week, the course participants are looking into how cities impact and are impacted by climate change and there is still time to sign up.


For the next run of the MOOC, we are trialing a new interactive activity wherein learners have a go at growing and powering their own city and discover the urban heat and air pollution impact of their city. The instructions are given below and we’d be delighted to receive feedback from anybody who would like to try it (you don’t have to sign up for the course, but I’d highly reccommend it!)


In this task, we see how well you can meet the challenge of creating and providing power for a thriving city that also manages its environmental impact. You will use the flash game ElectroCity. This game was developed as an educational tool by New Zealand energy company Genesis Energy. In the game you will have 150 turns to meet the objectives of growing your city, maintaining a happy population, meeting energy demand and maintaining environmental quality. As you will find, it is not easy to perfectly balance these four objectives! Some tips are available here. ElectroCity can be played in the browser, or a copy can be downloaded from this page for offline use. At present, ElectroCity may not be available on all mobile devices due to requirement for Flash.

When you have completed your ElectroCity, be sure to remember your city code. You will need to look at your city again for the next stage of the task.

Feel free to play the game more than once to explore your options. Once you are satisfied with your city, head over to our ‘urban climate calculator’. In this stage of the task we will assess some of the other impacts that a city has on its environment; urban heat and reduced air quality. We will examine some of the negative impacts of your fictional city as if it were a real city in your home country and consider the impacts of increased urban heat and air quality on mortality rates. The instructions for the use of the urban climate calculator are in the given link. You will need an ElectroCity game to use the calculator to its full potential, but you may also experiment with the range of possible values that are included below each question. When you have a completed set of scores from the calculator, return to this page.


Post a link to your completed city and calculator score. How do you think you did? What could you do to improve your scores? Can you draw any parallels with the activities of your region/local city to combat the impacts of a growing urban population?


Further activity (optional):
The UK Department for Energy and Climate Change have produced an activity based on reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the UK to meet the target of 20% of 1990 levels by 2050. How would you achieve this target?

If you do participate, please comment and let us know how you got on and how you feel we might develop this activity for the future MOOC runs.

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