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Charles E. Ophardt, Professor of Chemistry, Elmhurst College, Elmhurst, IL 60126, charleso@elmhurst.edu, Copyright 2004
 
On-Line Discussion of the Environmental Issues
 
ISSUE 3:
Should the U.S. Senate ratify the Koyto Treaty and agree to quantified legally-binding objectives for greenhouse gas emission limitations and significant overall reductions within specified time frames?
 

Various members of the class and the professor contribute to the discussion. Please read these postings before you make a contribution to this ongoing discussion. You may add new information for this discussion, make further comments on information already posted, or ask questions to other students or the professor about the information already posted. Answers to THREE Rounds of Discussion are required. This may be done all at once or you may wait for more of the discussion in Round 1 to be completed before giving your final answer to the question in Round 2.


Round 1 Discussion: (2 points): One question from sub questions in 1-5 - You will be assigned to answer one of these questions to ensure complete topic coverage. See the Questions below for the student assignments.
Round 2 Discussion: (6 points) Main debate question (Ques. 7)
Round 3 Discussion: (2 points):One follow up response to another student.
 
Extra Credit: If you make a second response or a rebuttal, you can get up to one point of extra credit. Please label this second response as extra credit.

More details about the Discussion Format.


Please read the discussion responses before you decide which questions to answer. Try to answer questions that no one else has answered or respond to answers already present.

Check out the discussion responses on the
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Write out answers to questions in a WORD PROCESSOR
and then copy and paste into
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 DEBATE QUESTION: Should the U.S. Senate ratify the Koyto Treaty and agree to quantified legally-binding objectives for greenhouse gas emission limitations and significant overall reductions within specified time frames?
 Option # 1: Yes. Establish an international agreement on a long term goal for stabilizing greenhouse gas emissions in the atmosphere at a level that minimizes the risks to the biosphere and to human societies, with a specific commitment to stabilize carbon dioxide emissions at 1990 levels by the year 2010.

If you endorse this position, make some recommendations about how to reduce the use of fossil fuels or capture the carbon dioxide emitted from them.
Option # 2: No. No action is needed because the "theory" of global warming caused by the burning of fossil fuels, is an unsupported assumption. Continued research is necessary, before any costly counter measures are implemented.

Various theoretical climate models used to predict future warming can not be relied upon and are not validated by existing climate record.

Student Issue assignments for the Main Issue Question #7 

 Assigments are by student ID numbers.
 Option # 1 Yes: Student ID's (1 - 7 & 14-20)  
 Option # 2 No: Students ID's (8 -13 & 21-30)  

 

General Questions - Issue #3 Global Warming

Use the following questions to briefly summarize the critical thinking necessary to solve the problem.

1. Identify the major technologies used and science concepts and principles which are applied to the technologies in this issue. Definitions: Technology is the application of scientific knowledge in the creation of new products and processes. Science is the knowledge gathered about the natural world through observations and controlled experimentation.

 Research the Answer to Questions
 
QUES. 1a. What technologies are used to provide energy in a modern society? What types of fuels are used for these energy sources? How much carbon dioxide is being produced by various energy producing reactions? Give some numbers.  Std. ID. 2, 26
QUES. 1b.What is the combustion reaction? What is the important by-product of this reaction that is important for this issue? How much carbon dioxide is being produced by various energy producing reactions? Give some numbers  Std. ID. 12, 3

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2. Identify the issues, questions, limitations or drawbacks involved with the technology, especially environmental effects. Definition: Application of technology is called into question when the quality of life and/or the environment deteriorates.

 Research the Answer to Questions
 
QUES. 2a: What is the evidence that temperature and carbon dioxide concentrations are correlated? What do the ice core samples tell us about the past climates?  Std. ID. 4, 21
QUES. 2b: What is the evidence that global temperatures are increasing or we really can not tell?  Std. ID. 14, 5
QUES. 2c. What is the evidence that the use of fossil fuels, which produce carbon dioxide, is causing climate change? How much carbon dioxide is being produced by various energy producing reactions? Give some numbers.  Std. ID. 23, 27

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3. For the issues and questions above, list/explain the science concepts and cause and effect relationships involved; and/or identify the use of the scientific method (Hypothesis? Experiments? Results and Conclusions?) to prove or disprove any of the questions or hypotheses.

 Research the Answer to Questions
 
QUES. 3a. Talk about the energy balance on the earth in relation to the earth and the sun. What is the electromagnetic spectrum? Explain the operation of a greenhouse or the inside of your car on a sunny day?  Std. ID. 24, 11
QUES. 3b. How does the presence of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases in the atmosphere behave like the greenhouse analogy in Ques. 3a?  Std. ID. 15, 28
QUES. 3c.From your reading did you find at least 3-4 other gases that are also considered greenhouse gases? Explain further. What are there sources? How significant are their effects?  Std. ID. 6, 25
 QUES. 3d. How are computer models used to predict that carbon dioxide and temperature increases are related?  Std. ID. 16
 QUES. 3e. What are some the consequences or impacts to the environment and human society should global warming occur? Each student can do a couple.  Std. ID. 7

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4. Identify the limitations or uncertainties of the science in understanding and/or solving the problem. Definition: Science is more limited in its ability to deal with systems with complex interactions because it can effectively study only a small number of variables and is incapable of controlling all of the variables. The "answers" provided by science may not be proven beyond a shadow of a doubt.

  Research the Answer to Questions
 
QUES. 4a. How good is the temperature data that is being used to support the theory of global warming?  Std. ID. 8, 29
QUES. 4b. Can this data be used as an absolute proven fact that global warming is already occurring or will occur?  Std. ID. 18
QUES. 4c. How accurate are the computer models in making predictions about global warming? What is the limitation on their accuracy?  Std. ID. 9

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5. Identify the social, philosophical, and/or ethical issues. Definition: Social issues relate to the general welfare of society. Philosophical issues relate to the principles and values for the conduct of life. Ethical issues are concerned with morals (distinction between right and wrong) and values (the ultimate worth of actions or "things").

 Research the Answer to Questions
 
 QUES. 5a. Are fossil fuels being used excessively in the industrialized countries to provide for the convenience of society? Do Americans have a "right" to cheap gasoline?  Std. ID. 17, 22
 QUES. 5b. What are the economic ramifications of a reduction in carbon dioxide emissions mandate? Is it possible to switch over to "clean" technologies while still using fossil fuels? Can alternative energies realistically be brought on line fast enough that the use of fossil fuels would be discouraged?  Std. ID. 10, 13
 QUES. 5c. As currently proposed in the agreement in Koyto, Japan, December 1997, the industrialized nations committed to reducing carbon dioxide emissions, while the undeveloped nations such as China, India, and others did not commit to any reductions. Is this correct and fair?  Std. ID. 20, 19
 QUES. 5d. Should people be charged a tax to more accurately reflect the damage done to the environment by the use of excessive energy? In other words should taxes be brought to a level where gasoline costs $3-4 per gallon as they are in Europe to discourage gas guzzling cars and SUV's?  Std. ID. 1, 30

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 QUES. 6: Use this space to make general comments or ask other questions.

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2nd Round of Discussion:

QUES. 7: Based upon all of the evidence presented, as an individual citizen or as a group, what course of action would you take regarding the main issue question?


Student Issue assignments for the Main Issue Question #7 

 Assigments are by student ID numbers.
 Option # 1 Yes: Student ID's (1 - 7 & 14-20)  
 Option # 2 No: Students ID's (8 -13 & 21-30)  

 ISSUE QUESTION: Should the U.S. Senate ratify the Koyto Treaty and agree to quantified legally-binding objectives for greenhouse gas emission limitations and significant overall reductions within specified timeframes?

Option # 1: Yes. Establish an international agreement on a long term goal for stabilizing greenhouse gas emissions in the atmosphere at a level that minimizes the risks to the biosphere and to human societies, with a specific commitment to stabilize carbon dioxide emissions at 1990 levels by the year 2010.

If you endorse this position, make some recommendations about how to reduce the use of fossil fuels.

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Option # 2: No. No action is needed because the "theory" of global warming caused by the burning of fossil fuels, is an unsupported assumption. Continued research is necessary, before any costly counter measures are implemented.

Interpret available information and data to formulate a solution to the question and a possible plan of action.

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