Questions

1 It is sometimes argued that, in scientific enquiry, 'consensus' can never be achieved, because debate and controversy are fundamental to the search for scientific truth. Discuss what is meant by 'consensus' and whether you agree with this argument. Do you think the IPCC Reports have achieved 'consensus'?

2 How much do you think the value of IPCC Reports depends on (1) the peer review process to which they have been subjected, and (2) the involvement of governments in the presentation of scientific results?

3 Look out as many definitions of 'sustainable development' as you can find. Discuss which you think is the best.

4 Make a list of appropriate indicators that might be used to assess the degree to which a country is achieving sustainable development. Which do you think might be the most valuable?

5 Work out the value of a 'cost' today if it is 20, 50 or 100 years into the future and the assumed discount rate is 1%, 2% or 5%. Look up and summarise the arguments for discounting future costs as presented for instance in the Stern Review and various chapters of the IPCC Reports. What do you think is the most appropriate discount rate to use?

FURTHER READING AND REFERENCE

6 Construct, as far as you are able, a set of environmental accounts for your country including items of 'natural' capital. Your accounts will not necessarily be all in terms of money.

7 List, with as much detail as you can, the mitigation action that is being undertaken by your country. What are the factors that determine the extent of this mitigation action. Is enough being done by your country? If you think not, how could it be increased?

8 Because of continuing economic growth, there is an expectation that the world will be very much richer by the middle of the twenty-first century and therefore, it is sometimes argued, in a better position than now to tackle the impacts or the mitigation of climate change. Do you agree with this argument?

9 Gross National Product (GNP) is commonly employed to measure the health of a national economy. But it is commonly accepted that, in providing a relatively crude measure of economic growth, it fails to take account of many important factors such as human welfare, quality of life, use of irreplaceable resources etc. Investigate other measures that have been proposed to assess and compare national economies. Would you judge any of them to be more valuable than GNP for policymakers to use as a general measure of economic health and performance?

10 Look up information on proposals for possible geoengineering options to mitigate climate change - for instance in the volume cited in Note 12. Make an appraisal of these options particularly considering their likely effectiveness and the possibilities of unwanted or negative effects on climate or society that might also result from their introduction.

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