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IL006 Seminars

Seminars take place from 9.00 to 11.00 on Thursday mornings, in R1.04 in the Ramphal Building.

Important: please read each week's indicated material before the seminar. The seminars rely on this!

Week 2, Thursday October 12th Climate Change - Themes and Problems

Preliminary Reading:

Naomi Oreskes and Erik Conway, The collapse of Western Civilisation: a view from the future, available here

Elizabeth Kolbert's review of Naomi Klein's book This changes everything (2014) (New York Review of Books, Dec. 2014)

William Nordhaus 's review of the Pope's Encyclical on climate change (New York Review of Books, October 2015).

Week 3, Thursday October 19th Getting to grips with the science

Please mull over the problems in this document in advance of the seminar: (PDF Document)

For help, consult the relevant chapters of the book Introduction to Modern Climate Change by Andrew E. Dessler - and if necessary look for other sources.

Outline solutions to the probems are here.

Week 4, Thursday October 27th Responding to denial

This week's seminar needs more prepration than the others. Please do it -- it will repay the effort. The seminar will review and respond to the lecture capture of a Warwick lecture (in the Environmental principles of global sustainable development module of the GSD degree), by Benny Peiser, Director of the Global Warming Policy Foundation, a denialist pressure group started by Nigel Lawson, Chancellor of the Exchequer 1981-89.

In preparation, please

1. Watch the lecture,

2. Read one of the key texts referred to in the lecture: Q. Ge, Z. Hao, J. Zheng, and X. Shao (2013). Temperature changes over the past 2000 years in China and comparison with the Northern Hemisphere. Clim. Past, 9, 1153–1160, 2013, available here, and consider how well it supports the assertions made by Benny Peiser.

3. Read Chapter 2, "The denial industry", pages 20-42 of George Monbiot's book Heat, available here, and at least some of the longer analysis in the book Merchants of Doubt, by Oreskes and Conway, available from the Main Library. Chapter 1 of Merchants of Doubt, "Doubt is Our Product"Part 1 and Part 2, introduces one of the themes of the seminar.

4. Read The Rockefeller Family Fund vs. Exxon (New York Review of Books, 8-12-2016) on a legal case against Exxon-Mobile.

Week 5, Thursday November 2nd Decisions under uncertainty

Preliminary reading: 1 and 2 are easy and non-technical. 3 and especially 4 are more technical, but worth a serious attempt. When you read a scientific paper whose details are beyond you, don't let that make you feel ignorant or inadequate. Instead, accept that it is OK not to be an expert on everything, and see what you can get from the paper.

1. Understand faulty thinking to tackle climate change, by George Marshall, (New Scientist, 13-8-2014)

2. Climate models and precautionary measures, by Nassim Nicholas Taleb and others (forthcoming in Issues in Science and Technology)

3. Medical tests and Bayes' Theorem, from Maths Fun Facts website. This illustrates the basic ideas of conditional


4. Attribution of climate extreme events, by Trenberth, Fasullo and Shepherd, in Nature Climate Change 2015

Week 6, Thursday November 9th Practical measures

Seminar slides

Week 7, Thursday November 16th Political Action

Preliminary reading:

1. The introduction (pages 1-10) of Newell, P., & Paterson, M. (2010). Climate capitalism: global warming and the transformation of the global economy. Cambridge University Press (electronic version available from the Main Library)

2. High pressure for low emissions - How civil society created the Paris climate agreement, by Michael Jacobs, Juncture, 22(4), 314-323.

Week 8, Thursday November 23rd The Energy Industry

The slides are here.

Week 9, Thursday November 30th Climate Justice

Preliminary reading:

1. Chapter 8 of ``Climate justice in a non-ideal world", edited by Clare Heyward and Dominic Roser. It's

available in hard copy and electronic version from the University Library.

2. "Climate justice and the international régime" by Okereke and Coventry, available here (paper to be presented

at Sydney Environment Institute conference on Environmental Justice)

3. "Price carbon -- I will if you will" by Mackay et al (Nature, 15-10-2015), available here 

Week 10, Thursday Dec 7th Climate Change and the Law

Preliminary reading: please read through the seminar brief, making use of the document

Working with Natural Processes - Evidence Directory SC15005, available via this link.

The lecture notes on Climate Change and Water are available on the Lecture Notes page.