read the book ” The Weather Makers” by Tim Flannery
pages 153-212. then answer the questions below in two pages
Assignment 4: Predication and Possible Future Worlds
Now that we have learned something of the science behind global warming , it is time to think about the limits of prediction. We know the world is heating up, that carbon, methane, and other greenhouse gases released by humans are the cause. But we do not know for sure the exact effects – some places hotter, some maybe colder; some wetter, some dryer. We have some basic ideas about it: in the short term at least dry areas get dryer, we areas probably get wetter (bad news for Austin – the kind of hot dry weather we have been experiencing during this drought cycle will probably become the norm around here, with its resulting damage to our water, our crops, and our health). The longer term (which is actually getting a lot closer – “long term” means by 2050 or so, and you are still going to be alive then, trying to figure out how to survive an maybe retire in the changed conditions) is less clear, but possibly much more scary.
Answer the prompts in short paragraphs like you did in previous assignments, and then spend some time thinking about and answering the application questions.
Model Worlds. What is the main problem in trying to model climate change? How do the examples of aerosols and global dimming illustrate our connundrum? Why does the author say that the only solution we have as of now is to start removing massive amounts of carbon and other greenhouse gasses from the atmosphere?
The Committment and Approaching Extreme Danger. Using the information from Model Worlds and this chapter, explain what the author means when he says, on 169, that “its too late to avoid changing our world, but we still have time, if good policy is implemented, to avoid disaster”.
Leveling the Mountains, How Can They Keep on Moving, and Boiling the Abyss are all about the ways animal and plant species are being affected by global warming right now, and how the problems will increase as we get hotter. But if you read them with the right questions in mind, they say a lot about the problems humans will face too. Discuss how the changes we see going on now will not only make things very difficult for animals and plants, but for humans as well.
The Pack of Jokers. This chapter is probably the most important when we are talking about prediction, because we are pretty sure we know what will happen when these “tipping” points are reached, but now sure exactly how soon they will be reached. So, read through this chapter first, then discuss what we mean by “tipping” points. Very briefly, how would each of these “jokers” tip things into a really really bad state of affairs for humans?
Civilization: Out With a Whimper? is the most interesting forecast in the book, albeit, as the author acknowledges, informed speculation. But he does raise some harrowing ideas here. What is the main argument in this chapter, and what evidence does the author cite to suggest this end?
Application 1: given what you have read in this assignment, what do you think are the main problems facing humans as we change our own world climate? What do you think about the end of civilization argument? Scary? Possible? Improbable? Well, lets pretend it did happen – what would be the likely affect on humanity if it does?
Application 2: Say we refuse to change our own climate changing behaviors, that the worst happens, and the tipping points are are reached. Human civilization collapses. What then? Discuss whether this would be a good or bad or neutral thing in the larger picture of Gaia.