Course Project — SPRING 2022
On a daily basis one can find media coverage about both local and global environmental issues. Whether it is a three-minute spot on the local news about the diversion of water from the Salton Sea to San Diego, to drought in California, or an article on CNN.com about climate change, information about environmental issues is incredibly prevalent in our society. Often these issues are highly controversial and quarry the “environmentalists” against the “conservatives”. What I would like you to do is to search and read through several news sources and find an environmental topic that interests you on some level and has “two sides”. Fortunately, there is no shortage of controversy in today’s environmental headlines. You can go to the webpages of the LA Times, SD Union-Tribune, or even a paper from a town you are interested in to find sources for articles. The topic doesn’t need to be necessarily from California, it can be from another state in the US, or another country in the world. However, you will find that authors of these articles often have their own opinions on a subject that may alter how they report the facts of an issue. Therefore, after finding an initial article, you will need to locate several other sources of information (other newspapers, internet, scientific articles, etc.) about your topic to make sure you can objectively discuss the issue. (Hint – pick a topic that is sufficiently large/complicated enough to have several different aspects).
EXAMPLE OF GOOD TOPICS: oil and gas drilling in National Parks, lessening protection for wetland in the US, nuclear power as energy source, solar arrays in the desert, bush meat trade in Africa, ivory trade in Africa/China, ban of single use plastic bag, styrofoam cups or drinking straw, fracking in public lands, Yucca Mountain or other nuclear waste storage facilities, subsidies for cattle grazing or dairy industry, off-road vehicle usage on public lands, hydroelectricity, privatizing water, Vaquita dolphins, roll of zoos/animal parks in public education or conservation, commercial fishing, recreational fishing, aquaculture, desalination, reclaiming water, farmers vs. CA delta water needs/fish, GMOS as solution for increasing food productivity, pesticides/herbicides, or many other controversial issues.
EXAMPLE BAD TOPICS (too broad): climate change, biodiversity, water pollution, human overpopulation (but birth control could be narrow enough), deforestation (would have to be really specific), rising sea levels
What I want you to do is to produce a synthesis of the issue, explain why it is controversial, present the two or more “sides” of the issue, discuss any federal or local regulations/proposed legislature, and then tell me what you think is the best course of action. For example, if you were to report about the use of snowmobiles in National Parks, you should discuss the general problems (noise and air pollution), present the environmental or scientific evidence supporting the negative aspects of the issue, present the side of the snowmobile users and producers, discuss the status of federal bills requiring cleaner snowmobiles or halting the use of snowmobiles in parks, and then discuss what and why you think a certain course of action should be taken. Often you will find that the support/against an issue will differ between different governmental offices or branches. Include not only the environmental impacts of a decision, but also consider the economic, societal or cultural implications and opinions. The majority of the work you will do on this project will be written text. However, I expect you add some graphs, photos etc. to your written text to add visual interest. Thus, as you are working on the verbiage, maybe keep in mind some good photos to go along with your story.
I will provide more details about the paper logistics (detailed rubric) soon, but your written part should be presented in Microsoft word, about 4 to 6 pages (with standard font (11 or 12 point) and margin (1 inch) settings). I expect to see several sources/references as well (at least 4, with at least 2 coming from peer-reviewed information such as a textbook, scientific paper, or peer-reviewed panels). I expect a well-written, well-researched paper, i.e. do not repeat the same information again and again in different sentences to take up space. This assignment is worth 100 points, broken down as follows: topic (5), outline (10), background information (20), summary of involved parties/opinions (20) your personal opinion/recommendations (15), your peer review of another project (10), overall grammar, spelling, quality and visual layout (15), references/source reporting (5). Note, I will not accept your final paper if you have not done a peer-review of someone else’s work, everyone neeawzds to share the load.