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Climate Change: Group Discussion Guide

Planning Time

1 week

Group Size

Any

Staff #

1

Event Date

Anytime

If you are just starting your freethought campus group, you might be in need of some fresh ideas to kick off the quarter. Even if you are an established group, oftentimes it can be difficult to come up with new topics every week for the duration of the academic calendar. These meeting topic activity packets should provide you with some materials and discussion questions that you can use to spur dialogue and conversation at your meetings. Attached is also a PowerPoint which you could use to introduce the group to this fascinating topic.

Climate Change

 The vast majority of the scientific community agrees that the the evidence for human caused climate change is overwhelming and incontrovertible. Levels of carbon dioxide have been rapidly increasing since around the start of the industrial revolution. Human population growth and our insatiable thirst for fossil fuels have been pointed to as the main causes of climate change. Rising sea levels, unpredictable weather patterns, and desertification are a only a few of the many symptoms of human caused climate change.

Nevertheless, skeptics of man-made climate change contend that a vast conspiracy is afoot to stifle the truth about climate change, namely that natural cycles caused by variation in the earth's tilt cause periods of warming and cooling that explain the current spike of temperature we have seen over the last 150+ years. Climate researchers warn that swift action is needed to reverse this trend and bring human activity and development back to a sustainable level. Recommended solutions include creating a "Cap and Trade" market for fossil fuels and placing far stricter regulations on pollution heavy industries.

Teaser Questions:

  • Has the integrity of climate science been compromised by dishonest research methods?
  • Should the government be responsible for taxing carbon emissions?
  • Why is there so much skepticism regarding the reliability of Climate Change research?
  • Do American's have the strength of will to forgo their luxuries and unsustainable consumption patterns in exchange for a healthy environment?

Discussion Questions:

  • What are the best current strategies we should be employing to wean ourselves off of fossil fuels dependence? Does Wind, Solar, or Nuclear Energy have the brightest future?
  • Do disasters such as the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon rig in the Gulf of Mexico cast our reliance on fossil fuels in a different light?
  • What are the main barriers to comprehensive climate change legislation in the United States?
  • Do developing nations have the same responsibility to limit their emissions as developed countries do?

Videos:

FRONTLINE - Heat : Award-winning producer and correspondent Martin Smith investigates how the world's largest corporations and governments are responding to the melting glaciers, rising sea levels, fires, floods and droughts associated with global warming.

James Balog - Time Lapse Proof of Extreme Ice Loss: Photographer James Balog shares new image sequences from the Extreme Ice Survey, a network of time-lapse cameras recording glaciers receding at an alarming rate, some of the most vivid evidence yet of climate change.

David Keith's Unusual Climate Change Idea: Environmental scientist David Keith proposes a cheap, effective, shocking means to address climate change: What if we injected a huge cloud of ash into the atmosphere to deflect sunlight and heat?

Carbon Trading - A Solution to Climate Change?: Larry Lohmann, author and founding member of the Durban Group for Climate Justice, discusses the pros and cons to carbon trading and its effects on the planet.

Climate Change PowerPoint Primer

What is Climate Change? Is human activity directly responsible for global warming? How do greenhouse gasses work? Do climate change skeptics make legitimate claims in their critiques of climate science? What can be done to mitigate the effects of global warming in the coming decades? These are the questions....Click here for the answers.

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