Climate change, energy, environment and sustainability topics research guide

This guide, for undergraduate students, is an introduction to strategies and tools for doing research and finding information on these topics.

What is climate change?

Climate change refers to long-term shifts in temperatures and weather patterns. The world is now warming faster than at any point in recorded history, which disrupts the usual balance of nature and is a threat to human beings and other forms of life on Earth. This topic guide includes sample keywords and search terms, databases to find sources, and samples of online books.

Example keywords and subtopics

Example keywords or search terms: 

  • Climate change
  • global warming
  • greenhouse effect or greenhouse gas
  • climate crisis
  • environmental change
  • clean energy
  • alternative energy or renewable energy
  • green energy or renewable energy or clean energy
  • Low carbon or carbon neutral
  • Carbon offsetting
  • sustainability environment or sustainability
  • environmental protection
  • pollution or contamination
  • impact or effect or influence
  • cost or price or expense or money or financial
  • fossil fuels or coal or oil or gas

Tip: This is a big topic with lots written so you can often focus on one or two subtopics. This will help to find more relevant sources, more quickly and be a better fit for an assignment. 

Possible subtopics ideas: 
Pick one or two subtopics and then add those words to your search.

  • Health impacts of climate changes (e.g. air pollution, water pollution, etc.)
  • impacts on a specific city, state, region or country
  • political impacts (e.g. voting, government policy, etc.)
  • impact on specific population or culture (e.g. children, elderly, racial or ethic group, country, etc.)
  • specific types of renewable or alternative energy (e.g. solar, wind, bio, etc.) 
  • example of new technology (e.g. electric cars or electric vehicles or hybrid vehicles
  • economic impacts (e.g. business, employment, industry (e.g. oil, coal, etc.)
  • weather and impacts (e.g. rising sea levels, flooding, droughts or heat waves, etc.)
  • media aspects (e.g. news coverage, advertising, misinformation, movies, music, etc.) 

Tutorial: Creating an effective search strategy

Creating an effective search strategy tutorial video. 3 minutes 24 seconds.
After completing this tutorial, you will be able to:
  • Use meaningful keywords to find the best sources
  • Apply search strategies like AND and OR to connect keywords

Tutorial: What is a library database and why should I use one?

What is a library database and why should I use one tutorial video. 3 minutes.
After completing this tutorial, you will be able to:
  • Identify what a library database is
  • Recognize the two main types of library databases
  • Know why you should use them
  • Understand why searching a library database is different than searching the general internet

Databases for finding sources

Article Databases - 

Use articles to find new research, specific information and evidence to support or refute a claim. You can also look at the bibliography or works cited to find additional sources. Some articles give an overview of a specific topic -- sometimes called "review articles" or "meta-analyses" or "systematic review." Databases are like mini-search engines for finding articles (e.g. Business Source Premier database searches business journals, business magazines and business newspapers). Pick a database that searches the subject of articles you want to find. 

Sample of online books

Below are a selection of online books and readings on the broad topic. We have more online books, journal articles, and sources in our Libraries Search and article databases.  

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Last Updated: Jan 25, 2024 11:55 AM