1. Dr. Hansen makes the case that certain climate “forcing” components may be masking the effects of more CO2 in the atmosphere at this date. What components is he talking about, and what effect do they have? Examine the potential role of this relationship in dealing with climate change into the future.
2. Dr. Hansen describes the potential role of methane hydrates (clathrates) in a climatic “feedback loop” which would accelerate the rate of temperature increase. This is an example of a climatic “tipping point”, from which there is no return. Give another example of a “feedback loop” which we are experiencing now, and consider whether it has an inherent “tipping point” in its actions.
3. The issue of climate change brings up an important point in the operation of a democracy. People need accurate information on which to base their decisions, but our covenants on “free speech” don’t constrain special interests from obscuring or obfuscating that information to serve their own purposes. This is particularly poignant when our media sources for information compete for the advertising dollars which those special interests control. How can we provide the public with accurate, unbiased information on critical issues like this?
4. Climate change, like most environmental issues, is a global challenge. To date, the United States has almost single-handedly derailed every international agreement on this issue. Even as the world leaders convene in Paris for a last-chance effort to avert global catastrophe, half of our congress has vowed to defeat any international agreement on these issues.
The United States sits as the biggest obstacle in global plans to save the future of humanity. How should the rest of the world respond?