Identifying a Problem and Beginning the Contexts Project

Minimum 300 words for your post, and 200 words peer response** (peer response is due Friday at 11:59pm)

**Locate at least three sources (not Wallace-Wells) that discuss your topic**

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This week, we’ll begin working on our Contexts Project, the first major assignment of the quarter.

After reading through “Cascades” (or the “The Uninhabitable Earth, Annotated” (Links to an external site.)– it’s adapted from that same chapter) I’d like you to choose a preliminary topic and, based on that topic, answer the questions at the bottom of this page with detail and specificity.

Before beginning this discussion, be sure to read the Context Project prompt carefully.

Some guidelines for thinking about the discussion and the CP: Wallace-Wells emphasizes the point that carbon emissions are the root of all climate problems. Scientists have known about this problem for decades, and yet little impactful effort has been made at the policy level to enact substantial, lasting change. For this project, I want you to think about why there have been no major policy breakthroughs. What communication blunders or strategies have pushed the consistent use of fossil fuels? Why haven’t scientific studies – such as IPCC reports – had substantial impact? Is there a messaging problem? Is the information too hard to grasp? Is it a political problem? A result of capitalism? A multifaceted combination? Something else?

So, for this discussion go beyond “carbon emissions are the problem” and think deeply about how and why the very things that produce carbon emissions are still doing so today.

Some potential focuses:

  • Transportation (why haven’t emergent technologies entered the mainstream?)
  • Energy (why is coal still a major source of energy worldwide?)
  • Personal choices (why do we make choices that are negatively impacting the climate?)
  • Impacts (countries or places that did not substantially contribute to climate change will experience some of its most serious impacts very soon (or are already); what moral and ethical problems does this create?)
  • Communication: reasonable responses vs. alarmist (what does “alarmist” mean in this context and why is it a problem?); why has rising sea water taken over the conversation?
  • Emerging countries and coal / oil usage
  • Denial and denialism (who perpetuates this? why?)
  • Extinction and human disconnect
  • Food and other types of waste (which becomes carbon waste)

Finally, this discussion is a place to explore these ideas. After submitting your post, please comment on one peer’s post, helping that peer think through the nature of their problem.

The following questions can also help serve as a guideline for thinking through a problem:

  1. What is the problem?
  2. When did the problem originate? Is it ongoing? Is it relevant today?
  3. What is the direct (or one of the direct) cause(s) of the problem?
  4. Where is the problem? Carbon emissions are a worldwide problem, of course, but specific locations and policies or actions in those place exacerbate the problem.
  5. Who/what is impacted by the problem?
  6. Find three credible sources (other than Wallace-Wells) that describe / discuss this problem.

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