Environmental science

How has modern society dramatically altered the carbon cycle?
Without the greenhouse effect, life on Earth would not exist. But too much of a good
thing can spell trouble. Explain.
How is the “free-rider” problem so potentially vexing to the challenge of mitigating
climate change?
How does a cap-and-trade system for carbon emissions differ from the traditional
regulatory approach?
Describe the example given of the market-based “solution” to climate change that
exacerbated global uneven development. Did this program at least achieve its stated environmental goals?
Exercise 9.1 The Ethics of CO2

In this chapter, we have reviewed how the puzzle of CO2 might be addressed by markets, institutions, and political economy. Explain how you might understand this problem using an ethics framework (as described in Chapter 5). How might an anthropocentric approach differ from an ecocentric one? Do polar bears have intrinsic value? How might pragmatism and utilitarianism be employed to consider options for the control of carbon? What are the limits of an ethical approach to CO2?

Exercise 9.2 Can You Do Better than the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change?

Outline an international climate treaty that would reduce emissions around the world to their 1990 levels. Things you will want to consider include whether stipulations will be the same for all countries, whether emissions or consumption of carbon is targeted, whether there will be trading or other kinds of flexibility, whether there will be monitoring or enforcement? How? Will offsets be allowed from forests or other efforts at sequestration? Once you have a sketch of what your treaty might look like, consider the following: What are the weaknesses in the treaty? What nations are more or less likely to sign on to your treaty? Why? What kinds of further compromises might be necessary to achieve a treaty that maximizes participation?

Exercise 9.3 Should Cities Think about Climate Change?

Visit and read the Climate Action Plan for the City of Seattle (http://www.seattle.gov/ environment/climate_plan.htm). What kinds of steps does that city envision for itself? To what degree are their efforts directed toward reducing greenhouse emissions and to what degree are they about adapting to change? Given this is a “global problem,” what motivates the city to address these issues at all? Do you think cities can make a difference in climate change, or is this something that requires a coordinated global action? Why or why not? What is the role of cities in governing climate change?

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