For assignment 2, you are to work in pairs or groups of three:
- Choose a piece of writing that discusses some aspect of climate change. It could be a newspaper or magazine article, an opinion piece, a blog post (but it would need to be a more in-depth type of blog post), or a scientific paper. You could even choose a TV show or movie. Look for something that touches on both the science and the question of what people ought to do about climate change.
- Analyze the assumptions made in the article that you chose, the questions it chooses to address, and the way in which it responds to them. In particular, see if you can distinguish which aspects of the discussion are:
- questions of science – i.e. questions that should properly be answered by scientific research. These will tend to be questions of fact about the world, about what the data shows, or about what the scientific theories predict will happen.
- questions for society – i.e. questions that need to be answered by examining our values, ethics, motivations, etc. These will tend to be questions about what people ought to do.
- For each question you identify, analyze what would be appropriate way to answer it. For the scientific questions, these might be answered through experiments with models or by collecting more observational data or by analyzing trends, or by developing better theories, etc. For the societal questions, these might be answered through political processes, such as political debates, voting, international negotiations, or through personal reflection, such as by thinking about values, ethics, and personal responsibility.
- Analyze how well the original article articulates these underlying questions/assumptions, and how well it chooses appropriate ways of answering them.
- Prepare a ten-minute presentation, to explain your analysis to the class. The presentation should (very briefly) summarize the original article and why you chose it, and then cover a selection of the more interesting questions & assumptions that you have analyzed.
By the due date, you should hand in a draft set of slides to present (e.g. using Powerpoint or any other suitable presentation software), and a draft set of speaking notes (e.g. a rough transcript of what you will say as you present the talk). You may, if you wish, prepare your presentation as a video, but this is not required.
We will provide you with feedback on the draft that you submit, and you will then get to present your talk in one of the seminars after reading week.
In case you’re stuck, here are some prominent climate change news sites for sources for articles to analyze:
- Nature News (has a wide coverage of science and science policy questions; search for “climate change” to find relevant articles)
- ClimateProgress (tends to be focussed on politics/policy questions, with a US perspective)
- DeSmogBlog (tends to be focussed on how climate change is portrayed in the media, with a Canadian focus)
- Grist (has a more general environmental focus, with lots of news about clean technology)
- RealClimate (tends to be very focussed on deeper scientific questions, as it’s run by a group of climate scientists)
- SkepticalScience (tends to focus on correcting myths about climate change)
- If none of these appeal, try environmental or science sections of your favourite newspaper or news magazine. If you want a lucky dip, try the warming101 aggregator.