CES: Final Exam (Senior Edition): Gulf Coast Oil Spill

asfa. spring 2010.

Core Environmental Science (CES) Final Exam.
Senior Edition.

According to Beth Stewart, president of the Cahaba River Society, the current Deep Horizons/BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico is, “one of the greatest environmental disasters in US history and will devastate our beloved coast.” Those are strong words. The eternal optimist in me hopes they are hyperbole, but the realist in me knows that these words are probably true.

Over the course of last weekend, I spoke about this oil spill with a fellow educator, a concerned citizen and parent and a theologian. They all echoed the same sentiment, “Maybe this will be the event that gets us off fossil fuels, if the politicians have any…well, let’s say ‘guts’.”

I am having difficulty sorting out the facts from the fear, and I am having difficulty conceptualizing the size of the spill, the scale of the mitigation effort and the impacts to ecosystems along the Alabama Gulf Coast.

Your final exam will consist of two parts. First, I want you to dissect this event by reading current news articles and responding to what you read. Second, I want you to investigate a coastal ecosystem that will be affected by this oil spill and describe how it will be affected. An alternative second piece is to describe an ecological/economic service a coastal ecosystem provides and pinpoint a business that will be affected by this oil spill.

It is my expectation that all of this work will occur in class over the next two weeks and that you will turn in your work prior to the final exam date on May 18, 2010. The specific assignments can be found below.

Part 1. Using the nationally respected websites below, local news coverage (or something comparable) find four articles related to the Gulf Coast Oil Spill. Don’t use wikipedia. I want you to look at primary/first-hand accounts of this crisis, reflect on what you have read and respond to it. You should pick one article that focuses on four of six possible angles: Political, Economic, Social, Technical/Scientific, Legal, or Environmental. Print these articles (I need to see the actual article). Each article response should be one to two paragraphs and highlight the major idea expressed in the article (logos), what you think about the crisis based on what you read (quasi-pathos), and how credible you think the author is (ethos) as well as the reasons for your judgments.

After you have read and responded to the four articles, write a one-page synopsis on the events leading up to the crisis, the current state of the crisis, the impacts of the crisis on coastal ecosystems and/or ecosystems.
You can organize your research into a blog, or digitize your work and email it to me once it is complete, or post it as a reply to my blog page, or print out your work and hand it in. (75 POINTS).


(thanks Anna R.)

al.com: www.al.com
Washington post:
Wall Street Journal: online.wsj.com/home-page
New York Times: NYT.com
National Public Radio: npr.org
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration: http://www.noaa.gov
Environmental Defense Fund: http://www.edf.org
British Petroleum (bp): http://www.bp.com
American Enterprise Institute: http://www.aei.com
American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity: http://www.cleancoalusa.org
American Energy Institute: http://www.americanenergyinstitues.org
Ecological Society of America: http://www.esa.org
National Science Foundation: http://www.nsf.gov
National Academies of Science: http://www.nationalacademies.org
World Wildlife Fund: http://www.worldwildlife.org

American Petroleum Institue: http://www.api.org/

The Nature Conservatory: http://blog.nature.org/

Part 2a. Investigate a SPECIFIC coastal ecosystem that will be affected by this oil spill. Where is it? What type of ecosystem is it? What type of climate and hydrology does it normally experience? Who are the primary producers? Who are the primary consumers? Who are the secondary (and higher) consumers? What effects will oil from the uncapped Deep Horizons/BP oil well have on this ecosystem? Be as specific as possible. Can you speculate on ways to help this ecosystem recover from this disaster? (25 POINTS)

Part 2b. Alternatively, you can PINPOINT a specific company that uses (exploits) the natural capital provided by a specific Gulf Coastc ecosystem. What type of business does this company participate in? How large is this economic engine? (Meaning, how big is this market/sector?) How is this business being impacted by the Gulf Coast Oil Spill RIGHT NOW? How much money is this company losing per day? What are the projected economic impacts to this company and/or this economic sector? Who should foot the bill for this projected economic impact? How do you think the projected economic impact will specifically affect You? (25 points)

Due Electronically or handed in by 11:30am, 18May10. If received at 11:31am, 18May10, you will receive a zero on your final exam.


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