Conduct a critical analysis for one of the counter-claims offered by Bjorn Lomborg in his 2001 article ‘The Truth About the Environment’ in The Economist (1500 words max, excluding any tables, figures or references).
Student Learning Outcomes
Completing this assignment will help you develop the following skills:
• Interpret and evaluate specific claims and counter-claims concerning global change;
• Locate and employ internet and electronic journal research tools;
• Distinguish between fact-based and opinion-based claims;
• Discriminate among reliable and less reliable information sources—peer reviewed, government, advocacy, popular, etc.;
• Expose personal biases and assumptions linked to environmental issues and argumentation.
The course is presenting global environmental problems as products of human institutions that reflect individual and social values and behaviour. Efforts to “solve” environmental problems are often aided by understanding how people develop and express their knowledge of relevant issues—of what truth is. This assignment requires an analysis of claims about the truth of global change.
What is required
Read Lomborg (2001) ‘The Truth About the Environment’ (click on hyperlink to download paper). Lomborg argues that the “litany of environmental fears” is not factually supported, including fears that:
• “natural resources are running out”;
• human “population is ever growing, leaving less and less to eat”;
• “species are becoming extinct…forests are disappearing, and fish stocks are collapsing”; and
• “the planet’s air and water are becoming ever more polluted.”
Conduct a critical review of one of the following four empirical counter-claims Lomborg makes by finding evidence from credible sources that supports or denies it:
1. “energy and other natural resources have become more abundant, not less so”
2. “more food is now produced per head of the world’s population than at any time in history; fewer people are starving”
3. the “threat of biodiversity loss is real, but exaggerated”
4. “pollution is also exaggerated”
Your paper should be organized as follows (using these section headings):
1. Background (approx. 15-20% of paper’s content, about ½ page): Introduce the counter-claim that you are selecting from the Lomborg reading. Summarize which global environmental problem it relates to, and how this fits in with REM-100.
2. Critical review (approx. 60-70% of paper’s content, about 2 pages): Discuss at least four credible sources (including at least two peer-reviewed scholarly articles) that evaluate the counter-claim you have chosen. Summarize the arguments made by each source, including whether they support or negate Lomborg’s counter-claim. Note that REM100 lecture slides are not an appropriate source. Also describe why the source is credible and critically consider if it may have any bias and why. Possible biases may involve opinion-based claims that have no scientific-proven facts behind them or research that might have been not completely objective because it was funded by a special interest group.
3. Conclusion (approx. 15-20% of paper’s content, about ½ page): Offer a clear conclusion, based on the evidence you identified and assessed, about whether the counter-claim you evaluate is more likely to be true or false (or a combination of both).
4. Reference list! Including all articles, reports and websites cited in the body of your assignment.
Jenna Walsh, the REM Liaison Librarian has kindly prepared a web page with useful references and tips to help with this assignment. You can access it at https://www.lib.sfu.ca/help/research-assistance/subject/rem/rem100-term-paperLinks to an external site. or by going to the main library page, hit ‘Find Materials by Subject + Course’ under Help, scroll down and click on ‘Resource and Environmental Management’ and then click on ‘Term paper’ in the REM100 section under the ‘Help with Course Assignments’ heading.
Click here for additional tips on critical reading.
A Word of Warning
Do your own work, do not cut and paste from sources, websites or colleagues and friends! Plagiarism is usually detected in a few cases every term and will not be tolerated.
Format and Style
This assignment follows a “Briefing” format. You must meet all of these criteria.
• Name your file as “surname_first-name__REM100Assignment.doc”.
• Document type: MS Word (or equivalent) or PDF.
• Font: 11 or 12 point (size), Arial font
• Document should be single spaced, with one space between paragraphs.
• Include your name, student number, tutorial time, submission date and assignment title in the document header (the top of your document).
• Use an assignment title that clearly states which of Lomborg’s counter-claims you are assessing.
• At the top of your assignment, clearly state the document’s word count – you must not exceed 1500 words for this assignment. Reference list, tables, and figures do not count in your word limit (within reason).
• Clearly structure your assignment with the section headings ‘Introduction’, ‘Critical review’ and ‘Conclusion’. You can use subheadings in your critical review section to separate the discussion of your different sources.
• Use APA referencing format as explained in tutorial, e.g. (Akila, 2012). Reference all data, information, assertions, and insights that come from other sources.
• Keep your assignment concise and to the point You must provide references, and show how they support your argument or message. Quickly cut to the chase! Papers should use precise language that can be fully documented—this style is often called “technical” or academic writing. Journalistic language is not appropriate. Some bullet points are okay, but make sure the document has a logical and smooth flow. You must use complete sentences, and your text should be free of typos or grammatical errors.
• You may use a table or figure to support your text, but such visual aids are not required.
• Any evidence of plagiarism (as defined by SFU) will not be tolerated and penalized according to Appendix 3 of the SFU Policy on Code of Academic Integrity and Good Conduct.
• See the instructor or TA if you have concerns or questions about writing. The key to good writing is practising, taking pride in what you write, and reviewing your writing from the perspective of a reader.
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