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IL006 Seminars

Important: please read each week's indicated material before the seminar.

Week 2, Thursday October 13th 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 20th Getting to grips with the science

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


Week 4, Thursday October 27th Uncertainty

Please watch the 2015 Max Weber seminar of Martin Weitzman of Harvard University, at the European University Institute, and look at his slides.

Also look at the old, but still good, chapter by Stephen Schneider and Kristin Kuntz-Duriseti, Uncertainty and Climate Change Policy

Suggested questions for discussion:

1. Almost every temperature record (there are thousands of them) shows strong warming over the second half of the 20th century. How come the IPCC are only 95% sure about this?

2. If you were told that a plane was 50% likely to crash, you would certainly refuse to travel in it. Why do the considerably greater estimates of the risk of catastrophic damage from climate change not lead to more vigorous emissions reductions?


Week 5, Thursday November 5th Effects on ecosystems

We will discuss some of the other factors that put pressure on ecosystems – bring at least two examples to discuss.

We will discuss the concept of ecosystem services.

How can we reduce the pressure on ecosystems and how would it be regulated/financed? Bring at least one example to discuss.


Week 6, Thursday November 12th, Cap-and-trade, carbon tax, and the discount rate

Please read Chapter 12 of Dessler's book, and also the accessible article by David Roberts on the discount rate. There are some questions for discussion here.


Week 7, Thursday November 19th, Climate Treaties

Please read this and think about the questions


Week 8, Thursday November 26th, The Economics of Climate Change

Questions for discussion: Is climate change a global pure public good?

How (and how much) should we discount the future?

Are markets capable of pricing environmental risk?

Will carbon trading schemes implement the efficient level of emissions?


Week 9, Thursday December 3rd, Climate Justice, Climate Politics

Please read

1. Chapters 5 (What's Just?) and 6 (Governance) in Dryzek, Norgaard and

Schlosberg's Climate Challenged Society, and

2. Castree, Noel, et al. "Changing the intellectual climate" Nature Climate Change 4.9 (2014): 763-768.

Both are available, as electronic resources, through the Main Library.