Choose one of the following questions or topics. Address the topic coherently and intelligently. Choose carefully. Remember that the best essays are those written by students who care about their topics. Demonstrate your knowledge of the subject, but don’t digress into areas that are only vaguely relevant to the topic. Be clear and organized. Give yourself enough time to work on this paper. Before you start, read the topic you choose several times. Avoid contradictions and uncertainty at all cost. Relax. Show me what you’ve learned. Demonstrate the results of your intellectual curiosity and savvy. Always support your arguments and analyses with sufficient evidence.
Address the topic honestly and critically. Present a main idea and develop it. Don’t turn in this assignment without proofreading it. Make sure your essay consists of a unified whole, with a clear opener, middle, and closure. Your thesis or main idea (purpose) must be provocative and intriguing, both to you and your reader. Demonstrate your intellectual curiosity and your love of the written word. Be thorough and honest.
If you use information or ideas found elsewhere, you must cite their origins.
Your essay should be typed, 3-5 pages in length, double spaced with one-inch margins. (Three pages means just that: if you turn in a paper with two full pages and two or three lines in the third page, you probably haven’t fully explored your topic.) You should include your name, course and section number (Eng 131.xx), and date you finished it. In addition, you should include “Essay #3,” but please don’t use that as a title for your work (“Essay #3” is not a title any more than “Boy #3 is a good name for your third son). All this information can be in the top right or left corner of the first page of your essay.
When you’re done, upload your work in the section titled “Submit All Homework Here.” There will be a space labeled “Essay #3” where you can easily turn in your work. If you have problems submitting your essay via Moodle, you can always send it to me directly via email (see my email address above) as an attachment. Please use your hawkmail account to send work, and please don’t use Google Docs as too many students in the past have neglected to give me access to their work. Remember: I will give priority to essays turned in via Moddle and on time.
Albert Camus’ “The Myth of Sisyphus” has nothing to do with climate change, but it presents an interesting philosophy: in the face of an impossible (or near impossible) task, hope is irrelevant. It ultimately doesn’t matter if we have hope or not in accomplishing a goal (in Camus’ specific case, it was defeating Nazis during World War II) because meaning is in the doing. We don’t act, suggests Camus, because we hope to win, but because action gives our lives meaning. Thus the “absurd hero,” is someone who works without stopping to accomplish something he or she has no hope of accomplishing. For this essay, explain how Camus’ ideas may or may not be helpful or relevant when considering action to alleviate climate change.
Pick two of the authors in the climate change folder (Solnit, Buckley, Franzen, etc.) and compare and/or contrast their ideas of hope in regards to climate change.
Todd May, who currently teaches philosophy at Clemson University, wrote a book titled A Decent Life: Morality for the Rest of Us. In it, there’s a chapter in which he argues that we have a moral obligation towards people who are not even born yet, and thus we have to act now to protect the environment: not because it’s good for us, but because it’ll be good for people who are not even born yet and will not even be born for several years or decades. Do you agree with his view? For this essay, first argue whether we do, in fact, have a moral obligation towards those in future generations. Then compare and/or contrast our obligations towards others in the future with our obligations to those who are alive today.
As I’ve mentioned elsewhere, we all need to understand the cultural, political, and economic shifts that are going on right now in our lives: a global pandemic, an economic collapse, and a revolt against racial injustice, and political leaders who purposely are trying to muddle the voting process during this election cycle. In the context of all this and more, how would you argue that it is still important to discuss climate change? Does the fight against climate change have any relevance to current social movements? In other words, do you think it’s a good use of our time to be working on climate change issues when there are other social issues that some people may find more pressing?
Some of the essays this week focus on ways in which we can discuss climate change with younger people. After reading the materials for this week, including some of the facts included in the NASA website, what honest words of encouragement would you offer someone who is younger than you are? (Note: this may seem like the easiest of prompts for this assignment, but don’t be fooled! Many a student has failed this because they can’t produce anything more than bland platitudes (“Everything will be all right”), bad advice (You don’t have to worry about it”), or outright lies (“Climate change is a hoax; the government is trying to scare you”) You may want to read and reread the relevant articles provided in this week’s folder.

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