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Possible topics for the senior thesis

by barnhill last modified Aug 27, 2013 03:32 PM

There are literally hundreds of possible topics concerning global warming and climate change. Below is a very partial list. It is intended not as a list of choices but a prod to help you think about a topic you want to pursue. Note that the topics are put in question form: in your thesis you will be wrestling with complex issues.

Climate change situation now and in the future

How are the oceans involved in climate change? What are the different perspectives on their significance to global warming?

What is happening and will happen to the cyrosphere (Antarctica and/or the Arctic and/or Greenland and/or glaciers) and what might be the consequences?

Is there currently a slowdown, hiatus, or pause in global warming? What are the implications of this current trend?

What are the different calculations of the planet’s climate sensitivity, and how should that impact climate change policy?

Are we in danger of going beyond dangerous “tipping points?”

What atmospheric carbon dioxide limit would avoid dangerous consequences?

What global temperature rise should we aim for? 1 degree, 2, 4?

How do various climate models differ from each other and how do they compare in reliability and limitations?

 

Biodiversity and wildlife

How will climate change impact wildlife in the U.S.? What are the best ways to respond to the upcoming challenges?

What will be the impact of climate change on international biodiversity? What are the best ways to avoid the worst impacts on biodiversity?

How will hunting and fishing in Wisconsin be impacted by climate change? What kinds of adaptation should we pursue?

 

Mitigation

What are the prospects of carbon capture and sequestration and should we pursue it?

What are the possibilities and prospects of geo-engineering the planet to mitigate climate change?

 

National policy issues

What kind of governmental regulations on energy sources and GHG emissions should we have? What are the obstacles to enacting them?

How does the cap and trade system compare with carbon tax, and which is better?

Should the U.S. government be issuing subsidies to green energies in order to minimize GHG emissions? What would be the effect on our emissions, our economy, our government?

What is the “social cost of carbon?” How is it determined? How do future generations count in the determination? What should the cost be? Is this a useful idea?

 

Wisconsin and the U.S.

How will climate change affect Wisconsin economy? How can we best transform our economy to meet the challenges of climate change?

How will hunting and fishing in Wisconsin be impacted by climate change? What kinds of adaptation should we pursue?

How will climate change impact wildlife in the U.S.? What are the best ways to respond to the upcoming challenges?

 

International social & economic issues

How does climate change relate to the ideals of sustainable development?

What will be the impacts of climate change on global poverty, and what should be done to help prevent the worst impacts?

What are the different climate policies in Europe and how effective and appropriate are they?

Should we, and how can we, finance climate change mitigation and adaptation in developing countries?

Australia adopted a carbon tax and is switching to a cap-and-trade system. What are the reasons for this switch, and is it a good one?

 

Energy sources

Is natural gas a good transition to renewable energy, and should we pursue new methods of extracting it?

Should we turn to nuclear power as a way to avoid GHG emissions?

Can we adequately reduce GHG emissions by using only green energies? Will such a move stifle the economy?

 

Health issues

How will climate change affect the spread of disease in the U.S./world? How should we respond to these challenges?

What kinds of illness and death are caused by extreme weather events and climate change (e.g. heat deaths)? How should we respond to these challenges?

 

Security issues

How will climate change affect U.S. national security? How should we address these challenges?

How will climate change affect international security (e.g., instability, wars)? How should we address these challenges?

 

Regional issues

What will be the impact of climate change on the regions listed below? What adaptation steps should they take? How should they mitigate their contribution to GHGs?

·         Asia

·         Africa

·         Australia

·         Europe

·         Latin America

·         Oceanic/island countries

What are and will be the contributions to GHGs by China or India? By what policies and technologies can severe contributions be avoided?

 

Media and public perception

Why are the views of the public so different from the views of the scientific communities? What can be done to make the public better informed?

How do media represent the global warming situation? How does that coverage lead to a misinformed public? How should media cover climate change?

What is the global warming denial and disinformation campaign? How does it operate and who funds the campaign? How does it impact public perception? How should we respond to this campaign?

What are the strongest “contrarian” positions to climate change science and what are their limitations?

 

Ethical and philosophical issues

What are theories of “climate injustice?” How should such theories inform our social and personal practices?

What fundamental values and philosophies underlie the major competing views of climate change? What values and worldviews should we adopt?

What are the different ways Christianity could inform climate change views?

How would another religious tradition, e.g., Buddhism, shape views of climate change? Could such a tradition be relevant?

 

Advocacy and campaigns

What makes for effective advocacy campaigns, and what does not work?

Critically assessing individual campaigns

·         350.org

·         Citizens Climate Lobby

·         Sierra Club Beyond Coal Campaign

·         Climate Reality Project

Critically assessing tactics

·         positive lobbying (ala CCL)

·         protest (ala 350.org)

·         civil disobedience

·         ecosabotage

·         violent resistance

 

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by barnhill last modified Aug 27, 2013 03:32 PM