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Science, Externalities and Uncertainty Perception

ENMT495 Global Environmental

Week 4 Discussion

DQ1 Science, Externalities and Uncertainty Perception

Science, Scientific Skepticism, Scientific Consensus; Trends and Variations


How has scientific skepticism helped and hindered scientific progress?


Should we wait for scientific consensus (and how much agreement does there need to be before it is considered “consensus”) before we start tackling problems we can predict from the knowledge we have now?


Choose one of the major scientific theories we use in environmental management and discuss whether it still faces skepticism and whether there are valid points to these criticisms.


Is skepticism such as climate change denial usually related to a misunderstanding of trends and variations? Please give your own example.


Externalities and Pigouvian taxes/subsidies


How should we measure success in the economy if not by GDP? Is there any way to tie GDP to ecology to create a successful economy that does not come at the expense of ecology? Or should it be the other way around: ecology should be successful even at the expense of economy?


Can you think of any positive externalities that arise out of the things we buy/do in our daily lives? Are there still costs to the individual associated with these positive externalities? How can we encourage society to capitalize on positive externalities?


What are some examples of Pigouvian taxes/subsidies we currently have? Do they work as intended?


Uncertainty Perception


Has environmental science suffered in public opinion because of uncertainty perception? How so and how should we remedy this?


DQ2 Environmental Justice and Feedback Loops


This is Alex and I will be covering various Environmental topics throughout pages 3 and 4 of the article. 


Feedback Loops:


Explain the difference between a negative and positive feedback cycle. Provide an example of either one and describe how this cycle impacts are current climate crisis. Do the actions described increase or decrease our goal of a carbon-neutral world?


Explain how human activities such as burning fossil fuels have contributed to a feedback cycle.  Explain which cycle you believe it has contributed to and why.


Provide an example whose actions would result in a negative feedback loop and how would this impact the planet.  Would the contribution of said actions move us toward a sustainable future?


Environmental justice:


 Explain what environmental justice is. Why did the term come about and who would benefit the most (think about race issues and social/ economic structures), and why?


 Provide an example of a local or state program or action that could be considered environmental justice. Why do you believe this program or action is part of the environmental justice movement as well as a brief description of why is it important when dealing with and discussing economic and racial discrepancies?


Pick one of the 3 environmental justice cases and briefly explain what the issue was, who was involved, and how the issue was resolved or handled? Do you believe the actions that were taken in this case were appropriate? If so, why and if you do not agree explain what would you do differently.


As humans, if our economical and ecological activities existed within the boundaries of biogeochemical cycles, would the issue of environmental injustice still be a part of our lives? Explain why or why not.


Conservation Efforts in Ecuador:


Do you agree with Ecuador’s structural plan on how to conserve large portions of their rainforest? What problems, if any, would this method create?


When considering the protection of future ecosystems, we must take into consideration moral, legal, and ethical obligations.  Based on this, how do you believe we should go about protecting large swaths of ecosystems whose resources could provide an economic boost for those countries whose economical status would benefit the most?


Do you believe that developing nations should have aided Ecuador’s plan for protecting its rainforest? Do these countries and companies have a moral obligation to developing nations?  If so, why?


How do you propose we should go about creating programs that would ensure that endangered ecosystems are protected for future generations while thinking about the economical hardships that this could pose in developing nations?


DQ3 Carbon Fee


This topic will be discussing the Carbon fee and will be led by Jessica Schrader. Please answer one of the following questions below and please make sure that you don’t repeat any information and only are adding new information to the discussion.


What are the pros and cons of a carbon fee? Does one outweigh the other?


What would the country look like if a carbon fee was enacted immediately? Where do you think you would see the first impacts of it?


How does this relate to an activity that you do in your day to day life? Does this information change your beliefs on this activity? What can you change about this activity to make it more eco-friendly?


Describe how the following terminology can affect how groups of people view laws on carbon.


Carbon fee


Carbon tax


Carbon credit


Is there a difference between these three terms? If so please describe them.


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