Instructions for Writing Global Warming Essay

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Instructions for Writing Global Warming Essay
Write a short essay, maximum length two double-spaced pages (points will not be deducted for essays shorter than two pages, but points may be deducted for essays significantly longer than two pages) that clearly states where you stand on the issue of possible human-caused global warming due to greenhouse gas emissions. A printed copy of the paper is due in class on Tuesday, December 2, which is the first class after Thanksgiving. It is important that you turn in your paper on time so that it can be graded and included in your overall class average to help you determine whether to take the final exam.

Make sure you read and follow all the instructions provided on this assignment page before writing your paper. You will need to consider the following general questions: Do you think that human emissions of greenhouse gases are largely responsible for the recent, measured increase in global average temperature (based on a thoughtful consideration of available evidence)? Are you concerned about the possible consequences associated with increasing global average temperature, e.g., sea level rise? For this question, it is possible to be concerned even if you don’t believe that the warming is caused by our adding greenhouse gases. Should governments regulate companies and individuals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions? Are you willing to take personal action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions?

Your essay must address the five issues/questions listed below. These items should be incorporated into a concise and well-written essay, not randomly discussed. I will check that you discuss each of these five items when grading your essay. The items need not be discussed in the order listed below, but all must be included. For example, even if items 2 and 3 below do not influence your opinions on this issue, it is important that you mention them in your paper because each is very important to at least consider when deciding on possible future action.

You may wish to look over the two pages linked below this assignment on the class homework page: “Global Warming summary sheet” and “Common attitudes toward global warming” before beginning to write your essay.

  1. Your attitude toward the human-caused global warming issue must be clearly stated. You may use the "Common attitudes toward global warming" link as a guide, but I want you to show me that you have thought about the issue. You must express why you feel the way that you do in your own words, i.e., do not just copy words or phrases from the common attitudes page.

  1. What do you make of the recently measured rise in global average temperatures, especially since 1980? Do you believe the temperature increase is a direct consequence of increased greenhouse gases? I would like you to try to consider the recently measured rise in global average temperature with respect to longer time scale estimates of changes in global average temperature constructed from both measured and proxy records.

  1. At the moment we are unable to say for sure how much, if any, of the recent warming of global average temperature is due to increased greenhouse gases. We are also unable to predict precisely how climate will change in the future if we continue to add greenhouse gases to the atmosphere. For the most part we rely on computer models, global climate models, to address these uncertainties. While these models are good tools, the complexity of the climate system and our limited understanding of climate processes make it impossible for climate models to provide exact answers or predictions. How, if at all, does this uncertainty about the effects of increased greenhouse gases on climate change influence your views about global warming and what should be done?

  1. Do you think governments should regulate corporations and individuals in order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions? If so, should they be radical changes or just minor changes? Consider that there will be costs involved (both dollar costs and comfort costs) in enacting any policy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Most greenhouse emissions are related to transportation and the generation of electricity from fossil fuels. So if you think governments should force compliance, you need to realize that the immediate effects will probably be more expensive and less convenient transportation, reductions in productivity, and loss of some personal comforts. Also keep in mind that minor changes, which result in slight reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, will probably have very little overall impact on reducing the potential climate changes … If the climate model projections are correct, then to make a significant difference the world must make large cuts in the emission of greenhouse gases to the atmosphere.

  1. Are you willing to (or do you already) make personal choices or sacrifices based on concerns about global warming? As an example, this does not mean “I ride a bicycle because I cannot afford a car” it means “I ride a bicycle because I am worried about global warming and I do not want to add CO2 to the atmosphere”.

Of course, your opinions cannot be wrong, but you must clearly state the reasons for your position. Remember that you are expected to specifically mention or discuss the 5 points listed above within your essay. Your grade will be largely based on two items: (1) content, i.e., did you include everything covered in the instructions?; and (2) overall writing, i.e., how well is your essay written? Your position should be clearly stated. The arguments or reasons that you give in support of your position should be clear and concise. Your recommendations for action should be consistent with your position. You should concentrate on ideas that shape your opinion. Please do not provide both sides of each issue that you discuss. Discuss what you personally believe and why you believe it, not why someone else may disagree with you. Take your time and write a good essay. There will be little tolerance for grammar and spelling errors. Be concise. You are not required to do any additional research outside of the material presented in class, but feel free to reference additional sources of information if you wish. Your paper is due in class on Tuesday, December 2, 2014.

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