MAE 124/ESYS 103:   Environmental Challenges: Science and Solutions

Spring 2010 Schedule

Week 1: Introduction
Reading/class preparation (for lectures):
  1. Bradsher and Barboza, "Pollution From Chinese Coal Casts a Global Shadow", The New York Times, June 11, 2006.
  2. Stokstad, "Science Meets Politics Off California's Coast", Science, 327, 1574-1575, DOI: 10.1126/science.327.5973.1574, 26 March 2010. Struggling with access to the journal Science? UCSD has a subscription, and you should be able to access it from any computer on campus, or from home if you use the UCSD proxy server or VPN. See here for details.
  3. Brown, Preface, Ch. 1 "Selling Our Future".
Reading/class preparation (for discussion):
  1. Lowe, Alex, "Ecological Footprint 2.0", WorldChanging (Environmental Blog), 2007.
  2. Assignment: footprint exercises
March 29: Introduction to the course. Tragedy of the Commons.   Handouts: syllabus, survey 
Discussion (March 29/30): Ecological footprints. Assignment due in class.
March 31: Tragedy of the Commons: Air pollution and other examples . Paper #1 topics assigned. 
April 2: Tragedies of the Commons: Fisheries and biodiversity. Guest Lecture: Paul Dayton, Scripps Institution of Oceanography

Week 2:  Energy
Reading/class preparation:
  1. Weisz, Basic Choices and Constraints on Long-Term Energy Supplies, Physics Today, July 2004, p. 47.
  2. Talton, Jon, 2010. Drill, baby, drill: The myth of energy independence, Seattle Times, 31 March 2010.>
  3. Brown, Ch. 3 "Climate change and the energy transition";
April 5: Energy demand. The fossil fuel economy:  oil, coal, and natural gas.
Discussion: April 5/6:  Writing a paper. Assignment due as specified in Paper 1 assignment sheet.. See Paper 1 web page for further guidance.
April 7:  Peak oil, energy supply
April 9: Speaking Truth to Power: Science at the Copenhagen Climate Talks. Guest Lecture: Richard Somerville, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, Abstract

Week 3.  Global Warming and Climate Change
Reading/class preparation:
  1. The Copenhagen Diagnosis, 2009, Allison et al., 60 pp.
  2. IPCC Fourth Assessment Report: Climate Change 2007: Synthesis Report, Summary for Policymakers, 2007.
  3. Diringer, E., 2009. Summary: Copenhagen Climate Summit, Pew Center on Global Climate Change.
  4. Assignment: Roles of developing and developed countries in addressing global warming
April 12:  Global warming and climate impacts 
Discussion April 12/13:  Roles of developing and developed countries in addressing global warming. Assignment due.
April 14:  Kyoto, Copenhagen and beyond
April 16:  Sustainability initiatives at UCSD.  Guest lecture:  Byron Washom, UCSD Sustainability 2.0

Week 4:  Population, Land Use, and the Limits to Growth.  

Reading/class preparation:
  1. Campbell, M. et al., 2007. "Return of the Population Growth Factor", Science, 315, 16 March 2007, 1501-1502.
  2. Hazell, P. B. R., Green, 2002. Revolution: Curse or Blessing?, International Food Policy Research Institute.
  3. Oxford Analytica, "Food Shortage Rises with Prices",, 15 April 2008.
  4. Krugman, Paul. Building a Green Economy, New York Times Magazine, 5 April 2010. recommended follow up from week 3
  5. Brown, Ch. 2, "Population Pressure: Land and Water"
April 19:  Malthus and population growth.
Discussion: April 19/20:   Prioritizing actions: Do the Skeptics Have a Point? Assignment due. Assignment due.
April 21:  Land degradation. Paper 1 due to with hardcopy submitted in class
April 23:  Local water history, infrastructure, and issues for the future.  Guest lecture:  Ivan Golakoff, San Diego County Water.  

Week 5: 
Water resources

Reading/class preparation:
  1. Summary of the Hydrologic Cycle, US Geological Survey, 14 April 2010,
  2. "Water Resources and Population", Paul Harrison and Fred Pearce, AAAS Atlas of Population & Environment, ed. by Victoria Dompka Markham, 2000, American Association for the Advancement of Science and University of California Press.
  3. "California's water crisis", Aquafornia Californa Water News Blog, 31 December 2007:
  4. "Gray water debate in Sacramento steams up", Los Angeles Times Greenspace Blog, Susan Carpenter, 17 March 2008.
  5. "Editorial: 'It just makes dollars and sense"
April 26:  Water rights in the West and the future of water.
Discussion: April 26/27:   What to expect in the mid-term AND breaking taboos on population.   Assignment due.
April 28:  Desalination, agricultural water rights, and conservation.
April 30:  Midterm. Summary of major course objectives Paper 2 assigned.

Week 6: Sustainability
Reading/class preparation:
  1. Sachs and Reid, 2006. "Investments Toward Sustainable Development", Science, 312(5776), p. 1002.;312/5776/1002.
  2. Myers, 1997. "Consumption: Challenge to Sustainable Development ...", Science, 276(5309), pp. 53-55. (Also look at the response by Vincent and Panayotou on the same date as the original article (and same web page) and at the follow up letters by Stern and Dietz and by Alcock dated 13 June 1997:;276/5319/1629d.)
  3. Hickman, 2006. "Is it OK ... to use an MP3 player?", Guardian (UK), October 17, 2006.,,1924202,00.html. (For the full report referred to in this article, see
  4. The Olympic stadium analysed using the DPWS tool. Environment Australia Case Study
  5. One or more additional articles on life cycle assessment of your choosing. See our list.
  6. Brown, Ch. 4 "Stabilizing Climate: An Energy Efficiency Revolution".
May 3:  Sustainability and the triple bottom line
Discussion: May 3/4:  Carbon mitigation wedges. Assignment due.
May 5:  Design for the environment. Life cycle assessment.
May 7:  Life cycle assessment: examples.  LCA Handout.

Week 7:  Transportation
Reading/class preparation:
  1. Burgess, Scott, 2010, 100 MPG Xprize race begins final lap, The Detroit News, Apirl 30, 2010
  2. Evarts, Eric, 2010, Automotive X Prize: Executive Director Eric Cahill on the race to build the car of the future, Consumer Reports, Cars Blog, May 6, 2010. For further reading on cars, check out our compilation of interesting links.
  3. Squatriglia, C., 2009, "Better Place unveils an electric car battery swap station", Autopia blog, Wired, 13 May 2009.
  4. Godoy, M., 2007., "CAFE Standards: Gas-Sipping Etiquette for Cars", NPR, 17 June 2007 (late post because students asked about reading to accompany Monday's lecture on personal transportation).
  5. Korzeniewski, J., 2010., "New Federal CAFE standards officially released, 34.1 mpg by 2016", autobloggreen, 1 April 2010 (also a late post).
  6. Curitiba, Brazil: Three decades of thoughtful city planning,,
  7. McKibben, Curitiba: A Global Model For Development,, 8 November 2005.
  8. Brown, Ch. 6 "Designing Cities for People".
May 10:  Personal vehicles:  electric cars, natural gas, hybrids
Discussion: May 10/11:  Life cycle assessment implementation. Preliminary paper plan due as assignment.
May 11:  Optional. 7 pm lecture, Price Center Ballroom West, Van Jones lecture, "The Green Collar Economy".
May 12:  Transportation planning at UCSD. Guest lecture: Brian d'Autremont, UCSD Director of Parking and Transportation.
May 13:  Optional. 2-3 pm, "Office hours" open discussion with Byron Washom, UCSD director of sustainability. Sustainability Resource Center (Price Center)
May 14:  Transit systems, Redesigning urban transport.

Week 8:  Energy and Climate Change

Reading/class preparation:
  1. Lewis, Nate S., 2007. "Powering the Planet", Engineering & Science, No. 2, 12-23.
  2. Brown, Ch. 5 "Stabilizing Climate: Shifting to Renewable Energy".
May 17:  Alternative energy:  efficiency and cogeneration
Discussion: May 17/18: Transportation planning for UCSD: Trains, buses, and automobiles. Assignment due.
May 19:  Alternative energy:  nuclear, solar, wind
May 21:  Carbon sequestration

Week 9: Land Use and Urban Planning

Reading/class preparation: (more to be added)
  1. Dick, Gregory, "Green Building Basics", California Integrated Waste Management Board, 2006.
  2. Appelbaum, A., "Don't LEED Us Astray", New York Times (Opinion), 19 May 2010.
  3. Wood, Daniel B, California adopts first statewide green building code, Christian Science Monitor, 15 January 2010.
  4. Ewing, R., et al., 2007.. Growing Cooler: The Evidence on Urban Development and Climate Change, Ch. 1, Urban Land Institute, October, 2007.
  5. Sadler, M., 2008. Height Fight on Chapala, Santa Barbara Independent, March 13, 2008.
  6. Walker, A., 2008. Natural Ventilation Whole Building Design Guide, National Institute of Building Sciences, June 3, 2008.
  7. Brown, Ch. 8 "Restoring the Earth", Ch. 9 "Feeding 8 Billion People Well".
May 24:  Green Design and LEED Certification.
Discussion: May 24/25:  Powering America (plus discussion of expectations for final exam). Assignment due.
May 26:  Urban planning (Smart Growth) Paper 2 due 9:30 am to Please bring a hard copy to class.
May 28:  Green buildings, natural ventilation, and sustainability at UCSD. Guest lecture: Professor Paul Linden, Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, UCSD

Week 10:  Balancing Population with Food and Water Resources
Reading/class preparation:
  1. Sachs, J. et al., 2009. Biodiversity conservations and the Millenium Development Goals, Science, 325, 1502-1503.
  2. UN Millenium Project, 2006, About MDGs, What they are, UN Millenium Project Historic Web site
  3. Addison, K., undated, Appropriate technology: Journey to Forever, web page.
  4. Ridley, K., 2006. Can soap operas save lives? Ode Magazine, April 2006.
  5. Union of Concerned Scientists, 2008. What you can do about global warming.
  6. Brown, Ch. 7 "Eradicating Poverty and Stabilizing Population", Ch. 10 "Can We Mobilize Fast Enough?".
May 31:  Memorial Day.  No class. 
Discussion: May 31/June 1:  No discussion due to Memorial Day holiday.  Optional independent visit to Birch Aquarium: Raising awareness of environmental challenges: The role of education and public outreach.  Bonus assignment may be submitted anytime up until 10 am June 4.
June 2:  Revisiting population: Reducing poverty, improving education, feeding the world.
June 4:  Strategies for moving forward.  What to expect for the final exam.
Reminder:  Complete your CAPE evaluation to give us feedback on the course this year and help us figure out how to improve it next time.

final exam:  Monday, June 7, 8-11, Solis 107. (Summary of major course objectives.) We will provide blue books. You may bring one letter-sized sheet of paper with notes. We will collect your notes at the end of the exam.