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Systems Change not Climate Change – Podcast


Systems Change not Climate Change

a Podcast Series by the AIDC

Welcome to System Change not Climate Change, an audible course for activists on the climate crisis! The course is primarily aimed at youth activists, particularly those in school, but is certainly suitable for adults as well. With that in mind, the course will aim to cover the basics, but there will also be something for those who already know a fair bit about climate change.

Most of you reading this will have heard of climate change, and many of you will have experienced climate change in your daily lives. Maybe you lived in Cape Town or the many other areas of South Africa which experienced unprecedented droughts. Or perhaps you live in KwaZulu-Natal which has experienced flooding two years in row. But even if you haven’t experienced climate change, it’s here and unfortunately, is only going to get worse unless things drastically change. This is why the title of this course is system change, not climate change! We want to change the system to stop climate change. 

That might seem scary and overwhelming, especially when we face so many other problems, but as we’ll learn, many of the solutions to climate change, are solutions to these other problems. But before we talk about that, we need to start at the beginning. What really is climate change? What causes it and what is it going to do to us? And for that matter, what is a system? Why is “the system” causing climate change and if we need to change it, how do we go about doing that? We hope that this course will help you to build your own answers to these questions, starting with us addressing the question of what is climate change? We begin answering that question with episode 1 below! 

This course is structured in lessons with many subjects. Usually one episode will cover a particular subject, or topic, but since lesson are short, sometimes there will be two, or even three episodes for a single subject. For example, the next lesson is called: What is climate change? In that lesson, there will be lots of subjects, such as global heating, emissions, impacts of climate change etc. The subject of global heating will be covered in an episode, but subject of the impacts of climate change, will need two episodes. 

For each subject, covered below there will be various supplementary resources for it including things to read, to watch, or other things to listen to. They will also be some pictures which will help you visualise what you’re listening to. 

Reading Groups

For each subject there will also be a number of questions for you to try and answer for yourself. With this in mind, we strongly encourage you to listen to these recordings with your friends, and for you to form reading groups. The following link provides guidelines for how to form a reading group -> # If you are looking for people to form a reading group with, you can follow this link to join a whatsapp group with others who are doing the course ->

The AIDC is also assisting those who are unable to afford data. To apply for data you must complete the following survey and declare that you will use the data for listening to this course, as well as complete a follow up survey. This is required if you are to receive data for the second lesson of the course. Please note that this service is available on a first-come-first-serve basis and there is a limited budget for it. Provision of data will be based on the answers given in the survey and will not automatically be supplied. Data will be bought for those whose applications are successful every Friday.

Contact details

If you need any assistance or have any queries with regards to the course please contact Bruce by email on

EPISODE 0 – Course Introduction

Lesson 1 – What is Climate Change?

EPISODE 1: Global Heating

This episode explains the processes that warm the earth and why global heating is different to the usual, natural processes.


1:24 – The different terms of global heating and climate change

2:31 – Difference between weather and climate

3:29 – How global heating happens

3:47 – The atmosphere 

6:10 – The greenhouse effect

8:56 – Global heating

  • How is ‘climate’ related to ‘weather’?
  • What are ‘greenhouse gases’ and how do they affect the earth’s temperature?
  • What is the difference between ‘the greenhouse effect’ and ‘global heating?’ 

Additional learning materials:

Greenhouse Effect 101:

Image of Greenhouse Effect: #

Climate is what you expect, weather is what you get:

Episode 2: Emmissions

The episode gives an overview of emissions: what they are, the important ones with regards to climate change, and where they come from.


1:09 – What emissions are

3:45 – Carbon dioxide

4:09 – Fossil fuels

6:37 – Methane

8:35 – Industrial agriculture

9:27 – Nitrous Oxide

10:08 – Summary

10:55 – Anthropogenic sources


  •  What are emissions?
  • Which gases the primary emissions causing climate change?
  • Where does each of these gases come from?


Emissions by sector with interactive infographics:

The carbon cycle:

What is methane?

The F-gases: #

Episode 3 (pt1): Impacts of Climate Change

First episode on the impacts of climate change that introduces the feedback loop process and explains how climate change creates droughts and wildfires.


1:00 – Recap  

1:57 – Why a 1°C increase matters

2:42 – Why we say climate change

4:44 – Droughts

5:54 – Feedback loops

6:26 – Droughts as a feedback loop

7:32 – The Cape Town drought

8:38 – Wildfires

10:17 – Arctic wildfires

11:06 – Arctic wildfires as a feedback loop


  • Does a 1°C increase matter?
  • Why do we usually call it climate change instead of global warming?
  • How do impacts of climate change interact with one another, what is this process called?


Temperatures: Warming projections:

Arctic fire fills the skies with soot.

How feedback loops are making the climate crisis worse.

Drought and climate change:

Harsh winters under climate change:

Episode 4 (pt2): Impacts of Climate Change


Second episode on the impacts of climate change that focuses on the melting of ice as well as storms. Some other impacts are touched upon.


1:11 – Recap

2:28 – Why the melting ice matters

4:02 – How sea-level rise happens

5:25 – Why sea-level rise matters

7:24 – Melting of sea-ice

8:53 – Storms

9:19 – Cyclone Idai

10:52 – Other impacts


  • What are the impacts of the ice melting in the arctic?
  • What’s the difference between the melting of sea-ice and ice on land?
  • How does climate change affect storms?
  • What are some other impacts of climate change?


Sea-level rise explained:

Cold and calculating: what the two different types of ice do to sea levels:

2019 Cyclone Idai: Facts, FAQs, and how to help

Hurricanes and Climate Change:

Climate Change Will Expose Half of World’s Population to Disease-Spreading Mosquitoes By 2050:

Episode 5: Climate Justice

The episode unpacks the two major components of climate injustice. Firstly, the uneven contribution of emissions by countries, individuals, and corporations, both presently and historically. Secondly, the uneven effects of the climate impacts, on both developing nations/global south and on the poor and working-class.


1:59 – What do we mean by justice? 

3:12 – The core components of climate injustice

3:38 – Country contributions to climate change

4:54 – South Africa’s role

6:01 – Historical emissions

8:19 – Class contribution to emissions

10:10 – Uneven impacts of climate change

10:17 – Example of cyclones and hurricanes 


  • Why is climate change an issue of justice?
  • Who is responsible for climate change?
  • Who and how will climate change affect differently?


Climate justice – in depth:

The unfair burden of climate change:

Who has contributed most to global CO2 emissions?:

World’s richest 10% produce half of global carbon emissions, says Oxfam:

Just 100 companies responsible for 71% of global emissions, study says:

Episode 6: Solutions to Climate Change

This episode outlines the various ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in pursuit of preventing a 1.5°C increase. 


1:27 – The overall solution 

2:05 – What is a climate model?

3:18 – 1.5 to stay alive

4:23 – How to reduce emissions

6:20 – Nature as a solution

7:20 – Carbon sequestration

9:55 – Going net-zero

10:26 – Not just solutions to climate change 

12:02 – The puzzle of climate change 


  • What needs to happen to stop climate catastrophe?
  • How does nature help us in stopping climate change?
  • What are the alternatives to releasing emissions, why are they appealing?


IPCC Special Report: Global Warming of 1.5 ºC (Summary) #  

Climate solutions:

One million climate jobs: #

Miguel Altieri: On agroecology, and why it is the solution to hunger and food security: #