Topics for Week 3 Student Presentations

ESP 2010 - Responding to Climate Change

for week 3, Dec. 1, 2010

All students should attend week 3, including those who already presented in week 2. Everyone please read these two papers for week 3:

Next Tuesday, the day before our last meeting, there is a very relevant talk by a guest speaker as well.
BA1170 at 3:40 pm
"Why is There So Much Confusion About Climate Change and Why Does it Matter?"
by Claire Parkinson, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

Considerable concern exists that human activities are leading to a level of global warming that would cause serious problems for humans and other species. Not everyone agrees with the projections, but the concerns are substantial enough that a wide range of suggestions are being advanced either to limit the human activities seen as causing the problems or to counteract their effects through the implementation of various geoengineering technologies. Many of these actions would be expensive and could have serious unintended consequences. Hence the issues surrounding them extend beyond purely academic interest. This talk will explain major concerns regarding upcoming climate, key scientific and non-scientific reasons why so much confusion exists about climate change, and various geoengineering suggestions to modify the climate. Earth science has advanced considerably in the past several decades, with the assistance of such relatively new tools as climate modeling, satellite technology, and ice coring. Still, we remain far from fully understanding all the intricacies of the Earth system or being able to predict with accuracy all the consequences of one change or another, whether intentional or non-intentional. As in other realms, in the realm of climate change and human contributions to it, society faces tough decisions despite incomplete knowledge.

I'd encourage anyone who is free Tuesday afternoon to come to this talk as it is such a good fit to our topic. Come find me there afterward, and I can count that toward your participation mark.

Someone could even choose this for their presentation, but if so you should not leave all the prep until Tuesday. You could first look up one or two articles by Dr. Parkinson on geoengineering, to get started during the week. See this page Coming Climate Crisis? Consider the Past, Beware the Big Fix on Dr. Parkinson's recent book that talks about geoengineering schemes. She has also given talks on this topic lately, including one that was recorded as a podcast (that might be a convenient intro).

Week 3 Topics

Each student must select a topic and prepare an oral presentation to give to the class during either week 2 or week 3 (eleven students each week). The presentation should last 3 minutes. No visual aids (PPT, posters) are to be used. You are welcome to use the chalkboard of course.

Thanks to everyone who presented in week 2. Great job! Now the rest of you get your turn. These can take for granted what has already been covered in the first two weeks so you don't run out of time in your 3 minutes. 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. For each proposal, briefly describe who proposed it and what is their field of expertise; briefly summarize what they propose to do. 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".
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 large)?

Topics Selected