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ENV4001 Environmental Systems Engineering Spring 2024 Global Perspectives Assignment Please select one (1) essay topic from the list of topics below. Be clear about which essay you are writing. Each essay should be 500-700 words, and contain at least five properly-cited primary references. Facts should be properly cited. Do not use Wikipedia as a reference (it is not a primary reference). Please use the “word count” feature in Word to count your words. Read each question carefully and answer thoroughly. Your response should be your own work. Work independently and not in groups or with a partner. Do not plagiarize from published works, internet sources, or have someone (or AI) write it for you (or risk receiving a zero). If it is determined that the essay is not your own work and either someone else (a classmate or someone on the internet), an internet service, or AI wrote it for you, then you may lose points on your final exam. Grading rubric: 35 pts total, based on style (5), grammar (5), content (20), citations (5). Please submit your written response in MS Word format in one file to Dr. Yeh via Canvas. Your file should be named “ENV4001 2024 global _Last Name.” Please make sure your name is on the top of the first page of the document. The submission will go through the tool TurnItIn for plagiarism check and will scanned for AI content. The assignment is due Saturday, May 4, 11:59pm ET at the very latest, but early submission is encouraged. Topics 1) Reference is made to the graph of Human Development Index (HDI) vs. Ecological Footprint ( The HDI is a composite index reflecting education level (literacy rate), prosperity (GDP) and health (life expectancy). Typically, as countries move to greater levels of HDI, they also move up in terms of per capita ecological footprint. One such example is the U.S. The problem is that Planet Earth cannot sustain all countries occupying the same ecological footprint as the U.S. We are particularly concerned about the trajectories of several countries with large populations and rapidly developing economies (namely China, India and Brazil). Choosing one of these three countries, discuss its current and future development challenges and what it might be able to do to achieve high HDI yet maintain low ecological footprint. What are the barriers in terms of institution, culture, economy and technology? How will climate change affect its development path, in terms of threats and opportunities? Be specific and descriptive. 2) The world’s population has exceeded 7 billion and is expected to reach 9 billion by 2050. How will we feed everyone? There is increasing recognition of the significance of the food-water-energy nexus. Discuss this nexus, in terms of challenges and potential solutions, across three scales: 1) global; 2) regional 3) local. How do future projections of climate change affect this nexus? What are potential barriers to your solutions? [Note: your “local” should be part of your “regional.” For example, Hanoi, Vietnam (local) is part of Southeast Asia or the Mekong Delta (regional)] 3) The world is urbanizing rapidly, and much of this is occurring in slums, or informal settlements. In slums, many of the symptoms of global stressors are manifested and magnified due to the lack of infrastructure and resources. Yet, some of the most creative, innovative and sustainable solutions have come from slums. Your assignment is to: a) Choose one actual slum as case study, describe its challenges b) Choose three of its challenges, describe how they are inter-related or interdependent c) Describe solutions developed in the slum that have addressed these challenges. How are they creative, innovative or sustainable? d) How might climate change exacerbate the challenges? e) How can the community adapt to future challenges? 4) Globalization and automation are two megatrends that affect the jobs of workers in industrialized nations. The most immediate impact is on blue-collar (factory) workers, but white-collar professionals are not immune to these trends. On the other hand, globalization has been largely responsible for lifting hundreds of millions around the globe out of extreme poverty (through manufacturing and export), while automation may hold the key to the ultimate efficiencies needed to sustainably accommodate the needs of 9+ billion on a very crowded planet. I am interested in your perspectives. Please further explain these two megatrends in the contexts of global sustainability, and provide your perspectives on how the trends might impact 1) global treaties on climate change; 2) international frameworks on sustainable development such as the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals; 3) rise of nationalism and protectionalism sentiments around the globe; 4) countries’ attitudes on immigrants and refugees; 5) potential for geopolitical conflicts. You may wish to examine the book Hot, Flat and Crowded. 5) Climate change is generally considered to be problematic. In addition to the obvious consequences such as sea level rise, droughts and flooding, the associated uncertainties create challenges for cities and nations to plot their futures. However, there are parts of the world where the impacts of climate change might actually be beneficial. Find out where they are and describe with sufficient detail on who, what, where, when and how would these areas benefit. If these benefits are exploited, would it reduce further exacerbate the impacts of climate change. Provide three (3) examples. Hint #1: Northern Sea Route. 6) In class we had discussed the rise of electric vehicles. Describe how EV’s can play a significant role in both climate mitigation and adaptation, in terms of our planetary needs for decarbonization. What are some potential drawbacks of EVs? Are EVs sustainable? Do you feel that the US has the necessary charging infrastructure in place to support full-scale deployment of EVs? If not, what is still needed (in communities and highways) to get us there? How might EV charging destination spots in small towns change the fabric of rural America? Describe and discuss the DOE’s “EV to everything” initiative, and its potential impact on the resilience of our electric grid through distributed power production. 7) In class, we spent quite a bit of time discussing human colonization of space (e.g., the Moon, Mars, and beyond). With the possible exception of tardigrades and the zenomorph from Aliens, space and life are rather incompatible. In order for humans to survive and thrive in space, considerable resources ($$$) need to be expended to develop advanced technologies for propulsion, navigation, and life support. Given all the pressing issues that we need to solve on Space Ship One (Planet Earth), such as climate change, conflict, poverty, resource depletion, social inequity, loss of biodiversity, rise of antibiotic resistance, and other challenges, should we be looking at space at all? Some nations are feeding their space ambitions instead of their people. Shouldn’t we be devoting all our resources towards solving Earth’s problems first? Is space merely the playground for billionaires ambitions? On the other hand, many technologies that have been developed because of space exploration have been commercialized to benefit humanity. Also, if we don’t develop the ability to get humans off of our planet, what if a planet-killing meteor hits Earth one day? Are space exploration and saving the Earth mutually exclusive? Should we focus our efforts only on robotic space exploration instead? Please argue for your position on this issue.