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Here's a state of things
Local Ecologies
Grand Histories
Modern Predicaments
What next?

Local Ecologies
Grand Histories
Modern Predicaments
What Next?

Essay Assignments for Unit 5, Environmental Problems

Due electronically to the instructor at 5:00 p.m. on Monday, June 6

Write on one of the following topics:

A) Given that China's energy demands between now and 2035 are expected to almost double, and given that you have read about all sorts of reasons why China should not develop coal, nuclear, or hydroelectric power any further, and since solar and wind energy, even at the unexpectedly high rates of recent growth, don't promise to be able to fill all these enormous demands any time soon, what should Chinese leaders do about energy? Where can they conserve, and where conservation is impossible or impractical, what sources should they develop and why? How do you compare the negative environmental effects of the different forms of energy? Then come up with a concrete plan, not just a discussion of the pros and (mostly) cons of various strategies.

B) Your readings on pollution present in grim statistical detail the human health and economic costs of water, indoor air, and outdoor air pollution. Put yourself in the position of an official at the Ministry of Environmental Protection, and draft a 1500-2000 word report to the State Council on pollution control priorities for the next 10 years. What are the most pressing problems, and what measures would you recommend taking to alleviate them? Keep in mind not only the physical and health costs of the problems themselves, but also the power structures that will have to implement them and the public discourses about environment and development.

C) The Blame Game, domestic version: Following on our class readings and discussions for May 26, as well as Hathaway's Environmental Winds, analyze the blame game for grassland destruction, deforestation, and species loss in contemporary China. Who blames whom and why, and where would you place the blame for these aspects of environmental degradation?

D) The Blame Game, international version: China is now the world's largest emitter of greenhouse gases, largest importer of petroleum, perhaps largest importer of logs and lumber, and an active prospector for minerals and other resources in a number of countries that are poorer than it is, in Africa, Asia, and Oceania. We might say that "China's Environmental Shadow" is the darkest in the world. However, per capita consumption of resources is still well below the levels of the US, Canada, Japan, and most European countries. So to what extend should we blame China for the environmental degradation that it is fomenting in the rest of the world, and to what extent should China blame the "developed countries" for using so many more resources than it does?

Essays should be between 1500 and 2000 words in length, not counting bibliographic references. You may use any style (footnotes, endnotes, or embedded author and date) for references, as long as it is clear where you have gotten your information. Quotations should always be referenced, as should any information that is taken explicitly from a given source.