Climate Change

The first essay is worth 170 points and must meet the following requirements to receive a passing grade:

Answer the prompt in a persuasive style;
Write 1000 to 2500 words;
Incorporate a minimum of five sources.
Note the essay will be reviewed by Turn It In. A similarity score of 30% or more will cap your essay grade at a C, even if all other parts of the rubric are met. Turn It In uses similarity scores to determine plagiarism, including text that’s been copy-pasted and modified.

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We’ve explored several conversations about how to respond to climate change, including more sustainable energy sources, updates to the transportation sector, and the impact of deforestation, wildfires, plastics, and beef. We’ve also looked at innovative technologies, such as carbon capture.

For your second paper, I’d like you to take one of your responses from our climate change unit and expand it into essay form. You can also start from scratch if you want to explore a conversation that we didn’t unpack in class (ex., nuclear energy), as long as it’s one of the solutions listed on Project Drawdown (Links to an external site.).

When structuring your essay, you want to persuade the reader to either (a) make changes in their behavior, or (b) support changes in societal behavior, rather than simply providing information.

Some examples of this include:

Persuasion for change in personal behavior: vegan lifestyle vs. daily meat consumption; reusable and/or repairable household goods vs. throwaway/disposable options; and switching to an electric vehicle, carpooling, or other sustainable transit.
Persuasion for societal change: improving conservation efforts; improving our grid; or other large-scale sustainable shifts.
Your essay should be specific in its topic, as well as specific in its persuasion. For instance, I don’t want you to turn in an essay that says we need to improve our methods of transportation, and then list EVs, carpooling, and railways in your body paragraphs. Instead, I’d like you to turn in an essay that says we need to transition to electric vehicles by 20XX, and we can do this by pushing legislation that requires electric cars on the road, as well as electric trucks and buses. Visit for more details.

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You can get even more specific—once cars are powered by charging stations and completely automated, does everyone need to own a vehicle? Can we not only push for EVs, but push for less cars on the road, so we can fill our cities with more walkways, parks, and trees? (This is just one example, of course. Don’t feel like you need to write about EVs! Pursue a climate change response that lights up your creativity, so you feel more authentic and invested during the writing process.)

Questions to Ask During Prewriting and Drafting
As you draft, ask yourself:

Are you emotionally invested in this topic? Since the prompt gives you a good amount of freedom, it’s best to pick something that matters to you, rather than the “easy” or “will likely be well-received” idea. Let your writing reflecting yourself.
Can you build upon a previous assignment? While I highly recommend you revise your writing as you go, rather than copy-pasting a previous assignment, you definitely can use work from our previous weeks to jumpstart your essay; in fact, the small assignments have been designed to give you this momentum.
How focused is your thesis statement? Note the prompts want you to focus, or zoom in, on a specific use for the technology you’re exploring. This means if you cast a wide net—for instance, if you try to write a paper about all the different forms of genetic engineering—you’ll miss the mark. In a shorter space, like 1000 to 2000 words, it’s important to stick to specifics.

How are you integrating your sources? Sources can be used to support claims (or arguments). For instance, if you make the case that Instagram has a negative impact on self-esteem, your sources could provide evidence of this in action. Alternatively, sources can be used to complicate or further a conversation. For example, if you make the case that automated interviews are harmful as long as AI is built on bias, your sources could illustrate which companies currently rely on this tech, illustrating inaccessibility to important Fortune 500 businesses. As long as you can reason with yourself a purpose or meaningfulness for your source use, you’re headed the right way.

When you make an argument, do you avoid the fallacious reasoning we’ve explored in class? Ask yourself if your arguments are presented with mindfulness about the fallacies we’ve explored so far. You don’t want to invite conspiracy theory or causal reductionism into the essay for the sake of intrigue. Instead of relying on quick-fix approaches to arguments, consider logical and thorough investigations into your claims.

Purpose of Assignment
Now that you’ve received targeted feedback for your first paper, I’d like to see your writing voice move one step further. I’m looking for papers that are (a) aware of the feedback provided in the first essay, (b) cognizant of the fallacies we’ve studied in class, and (c) grounded in the prompt. That said, don’t feel like you need to incorporate every single suggestion I gave in your first paper!—in the end, you’re the author of your work, so you make the final call. I’m only here to help guide you as your writing voice continues to grow.

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