"The Final Constraints," by Barbara Ward (in Thompson, pp. 428 - 438)

1.  What concept has some possibility of bringing about a "widening of understanding and solidarity to a planetary level"?

2.  In what sense do climates, oceans, and atmosphere involve the peoples of the earth in a common destiny?

3.  How much effect do human actions have on the environment?  In what sense is the environment "fragile"?

4.  What has the full-scale technological development of a third of the population of the earth shown about attitudes toward the environment?

[5.  How is Barbara Ward's depiction of this attitude like Heidegger's characterization of "aggression" against the earth?]

6.  Has the balance of atmospheric temperature been stable over time?

7.  What sorts of human factors affect temperature change?

8.  How much change of temperature is required to bring about possible catastrophic results?

9.  What is meant by thermal pollution?

10.  What role does particle pollution play?  What are the dangers of using particle pollution to offset carbon dioxide emissions?

11.  Which energy resources involve no carbon dioxide, thermal, or particle pollution?

12.  How does the ocean help to build the ozone layer?

13.  How is the ozone layer broken down?  What are the main culprits in this process?

14.  In what sense are the oceans vulnerable and fragile in the face of human actions?

15.  How has fishing depleted the oceans?

16.  How have oil spills and offshore oil drilling affected the oceans?

17.  What problems are there in regulating and monitoring oil tankers and their crews?

18.  What other human activities have affected our oceans?

19.  How have technological instruments increased information about what is happening to the earth?

20.  What do UNEP and GEMS stand for?  What hope does Barbara Ward have with regard to these and other agencies?

21.  Once information is acquired, what is the next step?

22.  What is the third and most difficult step that must be taken?

23.  How does our capacity to work together to save the planet compare with our capacity to destroy it?

24.  What has the nuclear threat taught us about our life together on this planet?

25.  How can we learn, on a small scale, what will happen to our oceans if we continue on our present course of exploitation?

26.  What has our experience with the Mediterranean taught us?  What sorts of activities have conspired to ruin the Mediterranean?

27.  What advances were made with the help of UNEP?

28.  What great setback affected the future of the Mediterranean?

29.  What dilemma is brought to light in this failure to agree to act?

30.  How does funding for cleaning up the environment of the Mediterranean compare with funding for war?

31.  Why do you suppose rich nations are more willing to give armaments than to help poor nations solve environmental problems?  [Barbara Ward only states the question herself.]

32.  What is the alternative to working together to save the planet?

33.  Does Barbara Ward view problems with regard to resources, energy, or population to be insurmountable?  Explain.

34.  What challenge faces rich and poor nations?

35.  Would Barbara Ward agree that the problem is with technology?  Discuss.



 Return to Course Calendar