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Global solutions and sustainability

Assignments must be based on facts, but also ask you to include your opinions and
perspectives, including your personal reflection on the assigned topic. You should incorporate
ideas from material presented in class as well as other sources in your responses where
appropriate. Your homework should be at least 2000 words in length excluding references,
single spaced, with 1 inch margins, 11-12 point font, common type font. Homework is to be
submitted via Turnitin.
1. Read the Case in Point on Hurricane Katrina on page 79 of your textbook as well as from
external resources. Then, use Google Maps to investigate the region and try to identify
hills/mountains nearby, if any are present (you may benefit from the street view function).
Based on numbers given in the text, and the prospect of more severe hurricanes due to
climate change, comment on the potential outcomes of the next hurricane, supposing it
hits in 2050. By keeping in mind the reasons why the city was built in its current location in
the first place, propose a sustainable solution to the problem.
2. Billions of barrels of oil are transported over water bodies for nations to run their
economies. Inevitably, mistakes/accidents happen and the end result may be disastrous.
a. Investigate the 1989 Alaskan oil spill through online sources. Do you think the end
result of the lawsuit was fair in terms of its societal, environmental, and economic
b. Next, investigate the 2010 Deep Water Horizon oil spill. Do you think the end result of
the lawsuit was fair in terms of its societal, environmental, and economic impacts?
c. Further investigate the chemical dispersant used during clean-up efforts and discuss
whether it was a good decision made by BP.
d. Next, find examples of oil spills that occur outside the U.S. (i.e. internationally) and
compare the actions of affected governments/societies and oil companies involved.
3. Visible impacts of climate change.
a. Read “The American Dust Bowl” on page 296 of your textbook as well as from external
resources. Use a satellite imaging software (e.g. Google Earth/Maps) and explain what
you see in the affected area shown in Figure 14.11. Also, comment on how climate
change is expected to affect precipitation and temperature patterns at the same
location (go back and check the lecture on climate change).
b. Back when it happened, California was not as populated as it is today and survivors
were able to migrate at the expense of leaving everything behind. If aquifers of the
region feeding agriculture were to dry up or become contaminated, what do you think
would happen? (This is not a remote possibility when you consider slide 32 in the
‘water’ lecture slides)
c. Now suppose a similar environmental problem occurred in a different part of the world.
Bangladesh had a population of a little over 150 million in 2011, and a population
density of 1046 people per square mile. 81% of its population lived on less than $2/day,
after adjusting for purchasing power. As a comparison, the U.S. population was close to
312 million in the same year, with a population density of 32 people per square mile,
and negligible (less than 0.5%) portion of the population living on less than $2/day
(adjusted for purchasing power). Majority of plains in Bangladesh have elevations less
than 10 m (33 ft) above sea level, and the elevation of the coastal south is at sea level.
Look at the figure on page 18 of your textbook for per capita energy use, and hence
contribution to global warming. As sea levels rise and more frequent storms are
observed in the region, it may be possible that millions of people will become refugees.
Comment on the ethical responsibilities, and the potential political response and
realities of neighboring countries.
d. By comparing the predicted effects of climate change from previous lectures
(temperature, precipitation, agricultural yields, water etc.), identify other critical
regions/countries that may experience similar problems. (You may also benefit from the
2011 world population data sheet posted under additional readings)
4. Banning of lead from gasoline presents an interesting case of what typically happens when
scientific results are in conflict with the interests of special interest groups. For an
educational and entertaining take on the matter, watch the following segment of the
documentary series: Cosmos, A Spacetime Odyssey Season 1 Episode 7 – The Clean
Room. You may access the part through Netflix if you have subscription, or through this
link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=63FKXgrJRIE
a. At the end of the segment, science is said to have sound the alarm on other
environmental dangers and that vested interests still hire their own scientists. Name at
least one global environmental danger that this may apply/refer to and discuss its
b. Read the posted article “Deeper Ties to Corporate Cash for Doubtful Climate
Research” under Additional Readings/climate change within Blackboard, as well as the
Wikipedia page of the researcher under mention in the article. Comment on the case.

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