Topics for Week 3 Student Presentations
Discussion section for APS111 - Engineering Strategies and Practices, 2012
for week 3, Nov. 26, 2012
The Edward S. Rogers Sr. Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering
University of Toronto
campus x65760 (416) 946-5760
All students should attend week 3, including those who already presented in week 2.
Everyone please read these items for week 3:
- How global warming made Hurricane Sandy worse by Andrew Freeman, Climate Central (3 pages) (Also notice their sidebar "Gallery: Geoengineering methods" (graphic + 1/2 pg) which includes several ideas we've covered, with links to several major technical reports and policy reviews on this.)
- Geoengineering May Be Necessary, Despite Its Perils - Royal Society review of pros and cons of various proposed approaches. (2 pages)
If you missed it in week 2's readings, review this
Statement from the Convention on Biological Diversity on their call for a moratorium on geoengineering experiments (1.5 pages)
This was the broken link on last week's page ... sorry about that.
- A Moratorium on Geoengineering? Really? Jan. 2011 article pointing out the CBD moratorium is not legally binding, but might make countries hesitate anyway.
- However, it did not stop this individual! World's biggest geoengineering experiment 'violates' UN rules Guardian (UK), Oct. 15, 2012 (2.5 pages)
- Everyone also please check out this CBC Doc Zone documentary,
"Playing God with Planet Earth"
The full show (45 mins.) is online as streaming video at:
Playing God with Planet Earth (video) Please watch as much as you have time for - at least the start.
This feature documentary is exactly on our topic of Geoengineering!
In fact, it turns out to include interviews with Alan Robock and other
authors from our class readings, so you can put a face to the name. How cool is that?
One of you may choose this video as your source for your 3 minute
talk on week 3.
Week 3 Topics
Each student must prepare an oral presentation on their chosen topic
to give to the class. The presentation
should last 2 to 2 and a half minutes. No visual aids (Powerpoint, posters) are to be used.
You are welcome to use the chalkboard of course.
Review my tips on When You Present for what to keep in mind as you prepare.
Thanks to everyone who presented in week 2. Great job! Now the rest
of you get your turn. Your talks can take for granted what has already
been covered in the first two weeks, so you don't run out of time in your
2.5 minutes. Please practice and time yourself, and cut what doesn't fit. With t13 people to go on week 3 we have to keep to the time limit.
For week 3, please focus on your interpretation / judgment
about the proposal's pros and cons (no need to spend much time
restating the basic mechanics if we heard them this week.)
Here are the topic selections you made at the end of seminar #2.
If you chose a proposed solution, briefly describe who proposed it and what
is their field of expertise; briefly summarize what they propose to do.
Many of you chose one or two of Alan Robock's 20 Reasons Why Geoengineering May be a Bad Idea. For these, try to mention one or more of the
specific proposals we've covered so far if this objection applies
particularly to that proposed solution.
Then choose among these questions to apply to your proposal.
Leave enough time for this! You won't have time to cover all these -
choose those most relevant to this proposal and that you find
most interesting to answer:
For each proposal, think about the list of potential objections from the
article by Alan Robock that we read,
"20 reasons why geoengineering may be a bad idea".
- Is this really feasible--within our powers to put into action?
- Is is controllable? Reversible?
- Does it stay there if left alone, or go away/fade on its own?
Do we have to keep renewing or replacing it?
- Rate it on simplicity vs. complexity - does it require
ongoing management? How might it fail?
- What side effects could it have? How serious are these?
- How might the public react to learning of this plan?
Another suggestion: talk about the proposed solution as an ethical issue,
and how political it could become. How many countries would it take to start
such a project - just one, or would it require many? How might different
countries be impacted? What could a country do if it feels the project
is doing them harm (even if the overall effect is good for the world at
- Do any of those objections apply particularly to your chosen proposal?
If so, mention which one(s).
- Can you think of any response in defense of geoengineering?
In this list, choices from Alan Robock's "Twenty Reasons" paper are listed as "R1" for reason #1, etc. If your topic is still "TBA" (to be arranged) please email me soon at jim dot prall at utoronto dot ca with your pick.
Topics Selected for week 3
Finally, here are some extra links for anyone who wants to know where to find out more about global warming, climate politics and efforts to cut greenhouse emissions.
- Ben: R1 - Regional climate
- Daniel: (TBA)
- Dave: R16-R18 - who controls it?
- Dongsub: TBA
- Han Ming: Open letter to IPCC
- Justin: Undermining CO2 reductions
- Karan: TBA
- Marco: plankton
- Mateen: Ocean fertilization
- Nathan: R8 - less sun for solar PV
- Tien Bao: R4 - Effects on plants
- Yang: R3 - Ozone depletion by sulfates
- Yiyang: R9 - Environmental impacts
- Youssef: TBA
- SkepticalScience covers every known objection to the science and links to peer-reviewed science to set the record straight. A great resource - there's even an iPhone app...
- Climate Progress posts news and analysis of the climate crisis and what's happening (or mostly not happening) in U.S. politics to address it. Covers geoengineering as news comes up. Hard-hitting.
- RealClimate is a key site hosting a dozen leading climatologists who take on the facts and the spin about what we do and don't know about our climate, how it is changing, and why. Just a few postseach month but well reasoned with the hard science at the forefront. Comment threads can be quite interesting.
- ClimateSight is the blog of the young researcher I met in the summer of 2011. She started (well-informed) blogging on climate change while still in high school, and she's now pursuing a degree leading toward a career in climatology.
- 350.org is a major grassroots movement calling for prompt action to lower GHG emissions.