HONORS 229L: Climate Change: Science, Economics, and Governance

Instructor: Ross Salawitch

Tues & Thurs, 12:30 to 1:45 pm, Atlantic 3408

Fall 2019: 3 units


Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed by Jared Diamond


Earth: The Sequel: The Race to Reinvent Energy and Stop Global Warming by Fred Krupp and Miriam Horn


Paris Climate Agreement: Beacon of Hope by Ross J. Salawitch, Timothy P. Canty, Austin P. Hope, Walter R. Tribett, and Brian F. Bennett (we'll read 2 chapters; available for free via open access)

Other resources for this class (these materials will be provided):

IPCC 2007 WGI Frequently Asked Questions


Tufts Univ GDAE Modules (we'll use two)


Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harai (we'll read Ch 16)


Beyond Oil and Gas by George Olah, Alain Goeppert, and G. K. Surya Prakash (we'll read part of Ch 8)


Power to Save the World: The Truth About Nuclear Energy by Gwyneth Cravens (we’ll read Ch 15 and most of Ch 16 that focus mainly on disposal of nuclear waste)


Another important resource:




ELMS Page 



1. Description

2. Schedule

3. Grade Policy

4. Admission Tickets

5. Assignments

6. Office Hours

1. Description

This seminar will begin by examining how the sustainability of various societies has been affected by government decisions. We will then focus on critical examination of the science that underlies modern climate change, including discussion of the bridge between the “deniers” and the “believers”. We will then discuss the economics of possible large-scale adaptation of energy provision by means other than the combustion of fossil fuels. Next, we will examine governance issues, with a focus on the conflicting positions of the U.S., Europe, China, and the Least Developed Nations. During the final few weeks of this seminar, students will break into three groups representing Europe (surrogate for Developed World), China (Developing World), and the Least Developed Nations, with the assignment to formulate an energy plan for each entity that achieves the goal of the Paris Climate Agreement.

Pre-requisites: None. This course will be taught at a basic level, without the use of advanced mathematics or high level economic theory.


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2. Schedule




Admis. Tickets

Discussion Lead

Class Material and Video

Auxiliary Material
08/27 Class Introduction



Class Overview


Krupp Book blurb

Diamond Ted Talk


Overview of Climate Change  Discussion Poll AT 0 Ross

Climate Overview


John Coleman, Denier

Al Gore, Believer

Ch 1, Salawitch book


Past Societies, Failure:

Easter Island

 Diamond: Ch 2

(41 pages)

AT 1


Michelle N.


Discussion 1


Nova Special

Rapa Nui Book

Rapa Nui Movie

Rapa Nui News 


Past Societies, Failure:

The Maya


Prologue (24 pages)

& Ch 5 (21 pages)

AT 2

Eliza W.


Discussion 2

No Video

Paper 1 Overview

Mayan Drought

New Mayan Codex

Ground Water in the news, A

Ground Water in the news, B

Widening of the Tropics


Past Societies, Success:

New Guinea, Tikopia and Japan

 Diamond: Ch 9

(32 pages)

AT 3

Emma E.


Discussion 3


India Population News Article

Modern Societies:

Dominican Republic and Haiti

 Diamond: Ch 11

(29 pages)

AT 4

Hillary G.


Discussion 4


Haitian TPS News, 2018

Haitian TPS News, 2019

Hispaniola Video


Modern Societies:


 Diamond: Ch 12

(20 pages)

AT 5

Anna L.


Discussion 5


Obama Xi announcement

Obama Xi commitment

Obama Xi Fact Sheet

Trump Reversal

Kuznets Curve


Roadmaps for Success or Failure

 Diamond: Ch 14

(22 pages)

AT 6

Paper Desc

Peter M.


Discussion 6


Silent Spring

Ozone Layer


Business and the Environment

 Diamond: Ch 15 (can skip section on seafood industry; please read last part that begins "In brief, environmental practices")

(41 pages)

Aug 2019 Business Roundtable Release

Aug 2019 Business Roundtable Meeting Challenges

AT 7

Eric F.


Discussion 7


Nova Rare Earth Metals

Chevron in Ecuador, I

Chevron in Ecuador, II

Volkswagen DieselGate

Surui, Amazon


Introduction to Climate Change


(36 pages)

AT 8

Anne F.


Discussion 8


Global Warming Animation


Learning Enrichment: Carbontech on the Hill

4:30 to 7:30 pm

U.S. Capitol Visitor Center, First St NE, HVC 201, Washington, DC 20515

Must register at

this website.

Should be interesting and informative.

Dress business casual.

We'll leave 3:25 pm sharp in front of the Atlantic Bldg, then take campus shuttle to College Park Green Line Station.  Welcome to join us 3:25 pm, or meet at room venue at 4:30 pm.

Not obligated to stay entire time.  Rather, folks welcome to leave whenever they'd like.


Climate Models:

Perspective of a Physical Scientist

Houghton, Ch 5

From pg 18 of PDF to top of pg 56

AT 9

Cristy H.


Discussion 9


Houghton Interview

Climate Models:

Perspective of a Social Scientist

Nate Silver: Ch 12

(42 pages)

AT 10

Rhea L.


Discussion 10


Salawitch Interview, Part 1

 Salawitch Interview, Part 2


Impacts of Climate Change

Union of Concerned Scientists

Climate Reality Project

Climate Change and Disease

Please see Admission Ticket for Reading Instructions

AT 11

Luke L.


Discussion 11


NY Times, Bangladesh

NY Times, Kiribati

Columbia Univ, Climate Change and Disease

Live Science, Climate Change and Disease

Ocean Acidification


Solar Energy

Krupp & Horn: Ch 2 (30 pages)


Krupp & Horn: Ch 3 (29 pages)

AT 12a   (Ch 2)


AT 12b    (Ch 3)

Abhay P.


Discussion 12


Univ Park Community Solar

Solar Energy Systems wiki

Solar PV wiki

Solar Markets



Krupp & Horn:

Ch 4 & 5

(45 pages)

AT 13

Ammar M.


Discussion 13


UMd News 1

UMd News 2

UMd Climate Action Plan (note: Carbon Capture Technology will be aglae based, in collaboration with Hytek Bio)

Hytek Bio

Biofuel wiki


Hydro, Geo & Wind

Olah: Secs 8.1 to 8.4

(15 pages)

Tufts GDAE Doc 1

(pages 1 to 16)

Wind Energy, Scotland Article

Wind Energy, Scotland Article 2

Offshore Wind Md Article 1

Offshore Wind MD Article 2

Offshore Wind Md Article 3

AT 14

Edison H.


Discussion 14


Hydro, MD


Offshore Wind, Calif


GHG emissions from renewables study


Nuclear Energy

Olah: Section 8.8 (through section 8.8.8)

(18 pages)

Cravens: Chapter 16 & part of Chapter 17

(38 pages)

NY Times Letter: Nuclear Energy and Climate

Preventing Nuclear Terrorism 

Updated Nuclear Energy Statistics (just browse this webpage)

AT 15

Thomas E.


Discussion 15


Nuclear, Md

Terrorism and Nuclear Energy: Understanding the Risks

Yucca Mountain News Article

Fukishima Reactor Accident Video


The Capitalist Creed

Harari: Chapter 16

(32 pages)

Movie Clip 1

Movie Clip 2

AT 16

Samuel R.


Discussion 16


WSJ Opinion Piece

 Musk, Gore, India, & Trump

Before The Flood


The Economics of

Renewable Energy

Tufts GDAE Doc 1

(pages 17 to 42)

AT 17


Nyah S.


PPT with figs

Discussion 17


Short Rotat. Woody Crops A

Short Rotat. Woody Crops B

Northfield Energy Storage

10/31 The Economics of Climate Change

Tufts GDAE Doc 2

(assigned: pages 15 to 45)

(optional: pages 1 to 14)

AT 18


Amanda O.


PPT with figs

Discussion 18


Stern Review 4 pg summary

Stern Review 27 pg summary

Nat'l Geo


Pacala and Socolow, 2004

US EPA Social Cost Carbon


Possible Solutions

Krupp & Horn: Ch 9

(43 pages)

AT 19

Aaron M.


Discussion 19


Calstar Update

Cement Article, CNN

11/07 Paris Climate Agreement

Ch 3, Paris Beacon of Hope

(pages 115 to 137)

stop at Methods

AT 20

Ryan L.


Discussion 20


UMD publicity video

America's Pledge


Implementation of the

Paris Climate Agreement

Ch 4, Paris Beacon of Hope

(pages 147 to 174)

stop at Methods

AT 21

Sijing Y.


Discussion 21


Community Efforts in MD

Campus Efforts


Fracking Presentation & Organize Class Project

No Reading

First Paper Due


Discussion 22



In Class Project 01

Tufts GDAE Doc 2

(pages 46 to 55)

start at "Climate Change Policy in Practice"


Meet in Groups

Action Day 1

Discussion 23


China INDC (second half is in English)

India INDC



In Class Project 02

No reading


Meet in Groups

Action Day 2

Discussion 24

No Video.



In Class Project 03

No reading


Meet in Groups

Action Day 3

Discussion 25




In Class Project 04

No reading


Meet in Groups

Action Day 4

Discussion 26

No Video


Presentation of Energy Plans

No reading

Energy Plans, Economic Plans, and the International Treaty must all be finalized and presented on 5 Dec.

Final Paper Is Due on 9 Dec


Discussion 27

Treaty & Plans


Photo Collection


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3. Grade Policy

Grades will be determined based on short writing assignments for each reading (50%), a mid-term paper (25%), evaluation of student led discussion and class participation during the semester (10%), and a brief final paper that reflects each student’s view of the final project (more detail below) and connecting to the real world issues related to the governance of climate change (15%).

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4. Admission Tickets

To encourage completion of the reading assignments prior to class, there is an admission ticket due at the start of each class (with the exception of the first lecture). The admission tickets are a series of short questions related to the reading, the overall goal of the class, and the encouragement for each student to develop their writing and critical thinking skills.

Admission tickets will be posted on this website at least 24 hours prior to the start of each lecture. If an admission ticket for a particular lecture is not posted by noon the day prior to a particular lecture, there will be no admission ticket for that class. Also, if an item other than an admission ticket link appears in the admission ticket column for a particular lecture, there will no admission ticket for that class meeting.

The lowest three admission ticket scores will be dropped ... therefore you can skip 3 of the 21 readings and not try to "fake it" for the admission ticket, and still get a perfect score on the admission ticket portion of the class.

Please remember to hit the ''refresh'' button to see the latest version of this website each time you visit, as we intend to update the website file frequently during the course.

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5. Assignments

Three assignments:

1) discussion lead: each student will lead an hour long discussion during a specific class meeting.  This will be recorded and a link to the video will be posted on the class webpage.  You will receive an evaluation from your peers and the instructor and you are encouraged to meet with the instructor to watch the video

2) mid-term paper: 5 to 8 pages single spaced; must include references & can include figures, both of which are excluded from the page count, due 14 Nov 2019 that either expands upon the topic of any class meeting other than the class meeting you have led, or delves into a topic of interest related to the class.  For the paper, it is expected you will conduct a modest amount of independent research outside of the required readings, rather than provide a summary of these required readings  You are welcome and indeed encouraged to turn the paper in any time prior to the due date.

3) final paper: 3 pages single spaced. For the last few weeks of class students will break into three groups, select roles within each group, and assemble an energy and economic plan, as well as an international treaty. The plans will be presented Thurs, 5 Dec. Final paper is also due on Monday 9 Dec 2019 (last day of the semester) at 11:59 pm (just before midnight).  For more information on the paper, please see http://www.atmos.umd.edu/~rjs/class/honr229L/assignments/HONR_229L_2019_Final_Paper.pdf.

Each assignment will be described in greater detail as the course proceeds.

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6. Office Hours

Office Hours:

Ross (Atlantic 2403): Mon & Wed, 4:00 to 4:30 pm & by appointment

Phone:  Ross Salawitch is at 5-5396

I strive to be accessible throughout the semester. Please either drop by or contact me via email to set up a time to meet.

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Website last updated on Thursday, 05 December 2019