EarthLabs > Climate and the Carbon Cycle: Unit Overview > Lab 8: Slowing Down an Amplifying Greenhouse Effect > 8B: Evaluating CO2 Reduction Technology

Slowing Down an Amplifying Greenhouse Effect

Part B: Evaluating CO2 Reduction Technology

The following scenario asks you to take on the role of a blogger evaluating some of the new carbon reduction technology.

The Scenario:

You have just graduated from college with a degree in journalism and an interest in climate science and technology. After spending several weeks sending out resumes to various newspapers, scientific journals, websites and blogs, you hear from WIREDa prestigious magazine and on-line periodical that reports on how new and developing technology affects culture, politics and the economy. WIRED is looking for someone with a background in blogging and climate science to start a new on-line blog on innovation and technology that will mitigate climate change.

WIRED has asked you to come in for a first interview and to bring a portfolio of your writing samples to the interview. In addition, WIRED has asked you to write a short piece on a new and promising technology or practice that claims to be able to reduce the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere thus mitigating the impact of present and future climate change. You will present your blog to an interview team comprised of your classmates and your teacher. At the end of the presentation, your interview team will have the opportunity to ask you questions.

WIRED has e-mailed you instructions for your blog presentation:

  1. Choose a technology or practice that is designed to mitigate climate change by removing CO2 from the atmosphere or by reducing the amount of CO2.into the atmosphere. The technology can be in already in use, in the design pipeline or simply envisioned.

    • Most mitigation strategies fall into seven basic categories: energy supply, transport, buildings, industry, agriculture, forestry and waste management. Look for technology or practice that interests you. Perhaps you are interested in forests. Then you might want to look for reforestation practices. Perhaps your family just purchased a hybrid car! Then you might want to choose a topic in transportation such as a biofuel. If you live on a farm or like to garden, then agricultural practices might interest you.
    • Be specific. Choose a technology or practice developed by a specific entity, such as a company, government agency, or university.
    • Don't choose a product such as an energy-saving air conditioner. You want to be able to explain how the design process works to reduce carbon and simply choosing a product won't give you that information.
    • Look to see if any designs or technologies are being developed or already in use near where you live - for example at a local university. If so, you can call and get information.
    • A regional focus may interest you. There are many organizations that are involved in regional projects. For example, your city or town may have a
    • Look for Hot Topics! Here are some hot topics that may give you ideas. Remember that many if not all of these strategies will have pros and cons.

    Hot topics:

    • fuel efficient cars and trucks
    • green building designs
    • geothermal energy and other green technologies
    • renewable energy such as hydroelectricity, solar, tidal, wind, bio-fuels
    • capturing CO2from power plants and storing it in rock layers (carbon sequestration)
    • no-till agriculture
    • iron and nutrient fertilization in oceans
    • reforestation
    • artificial trees
    • new ways to use nuclear power


    Looking for topics? Here are some websites that may give you ideas to help get you started.

  2. Then, in a blog no longer than 5 paragraphs and including two visuals, report the following:
    • Describe the mitigation technology or practice. Is it already in use or is it still in the development phase or simply envisioned?
    • Explain how the technology or practice works to reduce carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Include a visualization of the design or technology.
    • Describe the (pros) potential benefits and (cons) potential drawbacks of the technology or practice. For example, are there risks involved? Does it cost too much? Does it harm the environment in any way?
    • Explain the potential of the technology or practice to mitigate the impact of present and future climate change.
    • Be prepared to share your technology or practice with your class for a class critique. Your class will be choosing the mitigation technologies and/or practices that have the most promise to mitigate climate change.

    Discuss

    The level of atmospheric CO2 is close to 400 ppm and continues to rise. Technologies and practices to reduce levels of CO2in the atmosphere can be costly so organizations and governments must choose wisely. Take on the role of a government or an organization. Which of the technologies or practices described by your peers should your government or organization invest in? Why?

    • Choose two of the best CO2 reduction technologies and/or practices described by your classmates during their presentations.
    • Compare and contrast them in terms of their potential to reduce current levels of atmospheric CO2to 350 ppm or perhaps even lower. Why should your government or organization invest in these two carbon reduction strategies compared to the others that were presented?

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