- The concepts of natural selection and evolution are central to how most biologists understand and interpret the world, yet the theory of evolution appears to question the beliefs of many religious groups. Why do you think this belief is so widely accepted in science? Does it necessarily question religious beliefs?
- Discuss the ramification of China’s “one-child policy” with a friend or classmate. Do the problems caused by rapid population growth justify harsh measures to limit births? What might the world population be like today if China had a population of 2 billion people?
- Why do you think controlling green house gases is a difficult problem? List some of the technological economic, political, emotional, and other factors involved. Whose responsibility is it to reduce our impacts on climate?
- Do you think that water pollution is worse now than it was in the past? What considerations go into a judgment such as this? How do your personal experiences influence your opinion?
- A conservation organization has hired you to lead efforts to reduce the loss of biodiversity in a tropical country. Which of the following problems would you focus on first and why: habitat destruction and fragmentation, hunting and fishing activity, or introduction of exotic organisms?
- Understanding and solving the environmental problems of mining are basically geologic problems, but geologists need information from a variety of environmental and scientific fields. What are some of the other sciences (or disciplines) that could contribute to solving mine contamination problems?
- Conservationists argue that watershed protection and other ecological functions of forests are more economically valuable than timber. Timber companies argue that continued production supports stable jobs and local economies. If you were a judge attempting to decide which group was right, what evidence would you need on both sides? How would gather this evidence?
- Former U.S President Jimmy Carter said, “Responsible biotechnology is not the enemy; starvation is. What did he mean? Do you agree?
- Suppose that your brother or sister has decided to buy house next to a toxic waste dump because it costs $20,000 less than a comparable house elsewhere. What do you say to him or her?
- Some people – especially automakers – claim that Americans will never give up their cars. Do you agree? What might persuade you to a car-free lifestyle?
- If your local utility company were going to build a new power plant in your community, what kind would you prefer? Why?
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