814310 Weather, climate, and society

Lecture and exercise
Semester hours
Lecturer (assistant)
Perny, Katharina , Rieder, Harald , Mayer, Monika
Offered in
Wintersemester 2023/24
Languages of instruction


Human societies have been shaped throughout history by the climate of their habitats. While the direct exposure to ambient meteorological conditions has changed over time, the importance of weather and climate did shift and not diminish. Today it is well understood, that weather has influenced many facets of human activity, from agriculture, to travel and transport, arts and economy. Meteorological conditions have also influenced tactical movements or negotiations in times of war, and climatic changes have influenced the development and fate of civilizations. Over the 20th century the exposure (and regionally also the vulnerability) against meteorological hazards has increased, resulting in an increasing value of weather, climate, and environmental data information and forecasts in public services and economy. A rich body of literature documents a projected increase in the frequency, severity and duration of many weather and climate extremes, and thus in absence of enhanced resilience an increasing impact on human societies. The rate of change and impact depends strongly on the considered future emission scenario and thus present and future anthropogenic behavior and action. Thereby the loop closes between climate and society, with humans determining the future state of Earth’s climate and thus the ambient conditions future generations will live in.

Objective (expected results of study and acquired competences)

After participation students will have gained a deep understanding of how weather and climate have shaped and continue to shape human societies. Students will understand how individual meteorological hazards had lasting impact on society at the local/regional scale and how climatic variations/changes contributed to the fate of civilizations. Participants will have gained knowledge on how extreme events affect the economy on regional/global scale and how insured losses from meteorological hazards have developed over recent decades. Students will be able to understand how potential future climatic changes will impact different social, cultural, and natural resources. The students will have gained knowledge regarding the shared socio-economic pathways underlying future projections and how anthropogenic action regarding changes in greenhouse gas emissions and beyond closes a feedback loop between how climatic conditions shape societies and our modern societies shape climate. Furthermore, students will learn to disentangle and rebuttal statements of ‘merchants of doubt’, who are denying the anthropogenic contribution to climate warming, and argue against the transition to climate-neutral, sustainable societies.
You can find more details like the schedule or information about exams on the course-page in BOKUonline.