Friday, November 22, 2019


By: Matthew Wilburn King
Level of Difficulty: **
These documentaries are referred to in the text
·         Chasing Ice
·         Chasing Coral
Read the introduction and answer the questions
1.       What is surprising about our reaction to climate change? Although there is ample evidence of the damage being done by climate change,……
2.       The introduction ends on a hopeful/hopeless note. How do you know?
Read the section titled “Brain Biases” and answer the questions
3.       According to Conor Seyle, we are failing to address the issue of climate change because…(There are two answers; find both)
4.       Look back on the three paragraphs you have just read. We understand from the text that our attitude to external threats depends to a large extent on….
5.       What superior ability/ abilities is/ are the brain of man capable of ?
6.       The once useful cognitive ability we posses described above has now become a handicap. The reason is that it…
7.       Which of the cognitive biases listed in the text are the following examples of:
·         The municipality has set up collection points for collecting plastic. You cannot be bothered to take your plastic. You think others are doing it anyway and you won’t make a difference.
·         Fibromyalgia can be treated with Xanax and similar drugs. Yet the same drugs can contribute to the development of Alzheimer’s. The young person opts to take the drug nevertheless
·         You are putting your son through university. He does very badly the first year but you continue paying his tuition, bed and board. He does equally badly the second year. His brother tells you he should leave university and work. You decide to keep pushing him.
8.       What do you think the word “hamstringing” means?
Read the section titled “Evolutionary Upside” and answer the questions
9.       In order to get a law degree in the US, an individual needs to get his BA and then go to law school and even further specialize should he wish to. Similarly an individual wishing to be doctor goes through 6 years of medical school and then specializes. Both individuals have to face roughly 10 years of further education after high school. These two examples prove that we are perfectly capable of…
10.   Consider the previous question and its answer. Why are we failing to address climate change?
11.   The purpose of Exposure Labs in its choice of target group was …
12.   A large company wants to reduce its use of paper. Which of the following would yield more favorable results? Why?
·         Notifying all departments that reducing the use of paper is the new policy decision
·         Pitting departments against each other and posting the result on the company website
·         Pitting the company against another company which has already reduced the use of paper
13.   The business model applied in Japan is the ringi system (find video). In this system even the worker lowest in the company hierarchy can come up with original solutions and speak to managers. In fact it is the worker who actually operates a piece of machinery who is consulted if there is a problem with that machine. Why does this system work so well?
14.   Publicizing nightmare scenarios about the long term effects of climate change have been ineffective because
15.   You have installed solar panels on your roof. You meet all your energy needs but you have energy to spare as well. You feed this into the national grid and get paid for it. This would encourage / wouldn’t encourage your neighbours to go down the same path because…
16.   The writer bases the conclusion he reaches at the end of the text on the facts that…
Discuss the reasons why we are failing to address the issue of climate change
The text provides a fascinating take on why we are failing to tackle the obvious problem of climate change. We have all often wondered why people are so slow to act when we can see the effects of climate change all round us. This text tells you why. Despite the doom and gloom at the beginning, it ends on an optimistic note.
1.       But that information hasn’t been enough to change our behaviours on a scale great enough to stop climate change
2.        No other species has evolved with such an extraordinary capacity to solve it
3.       It isn’t an immediate threat/ it is a complex threat
4.       The way our brains have evolved over the last two million years.
5.       Filtering information/ remembering what is immediately essential and that which is not
6.       Makes it difficult to address complex long-term challenges
7.       The bystander effect, hyperbolic discounting, the sunk cost fallacy
8.       Preventing
9.       Imagining and predicting multiple, complex outcomes and identifying actions needed in the present to achieve desired outcomes in the future and acting on them.
10.   The capacity to plan to ensure a future outcome breaks down when large-scale collective action is needed
11.   To avoid/ to circumvent/ prevent etc the bystander effect OR not to succumb to the bystander effect
12.   The second, due to the social comparison effect
13.   Because of the endowment effect
14.   Humans are more likely to change behaviour when challenges are framed positively, instead of negatively
15.   Would encourage / because behavior change has been incentivized at a local level
16.   We have evolved to innovate / we have evolved to have the communication and technology to pass these innovations on

Saturday, October 26, 2019


Public protests have always existed, and the reasons are universally known. They are usually a way of drawing attention to a perceived wrong and demanding change. Never have they been so widespread as in the autumn of 2019, which is when this task was prepared. Below, you will find the main causes of public protests and examples from the afore mentioned period. You will need to research each case in order to be able to do justice to the writing task. It is hoped that while doing so, you will develop a keen interest in world events and continue to follow what is happening globally. Should you attempt this task in the years to come, you will need to scour the press to discover appropriate examples. It is suggested you give yourself free rein and allow this writing task to be as long as it needs to be.
Refer to my second blog, The Essay Archive, for sample essays:
Here are the main causes of public protests and the names of the countries where they occurred in October 2019:
·         Political: London , Barcelona
·         Erosion of human rights: Hong Kong
·         Fraudulent elections: Bolivia
·         Economic inequality, cost of living: Chile
·         Corruption: Iraq
When writing cause and effect essays, it is customary to suggest solutions in the conclusion so here are some suggestions:
·         Social and economic reforms (Diversifying the economy and the like)

·         Young and innovative leaders

Thursday, October 24, 2019


By Luke Kemp
Level of difficulty: ***
·         Joseph Tainter talks Energy, Collapse, and Society

1.       The case of The Roman Empire is presented as an example of…
2.       All the civilizations listed in the graphic are examples of civilizations which crumbled due to…
3.       How would you replace “they are” in the sentence “I would argue that they are.” ?
4.       Watch the following to be able to understand the text: What conclusion can be reached concerning civilizations based on this video?
5.       Why is “Our tightly-coupled, globalised economic system more likely to make crisis spread”? Refer to the video you watched for question 4.
6.       How can we prevent our civilizations from collapsing? By…
7.       The cases of the Anazai, the Tiwanaku civilisation, the Akkadians, the Mayan, the Roman Empire all prove that……
8.       Watch:  The story of Easter Island Proved that…
9.       How would you replace the phrase “This inequality” in the following sentence: “This inequality undermines collective solidarity and political turbulence follows.”?Write the sentence out in full.
10.   How can the section titled “Complexity” best be summarized? What is it precisely that causes society to collapse?
11.   The collapse of the Byzantine Empire is an example of an empire which collapsed due to …
12.   Study the chart titled “Danger Signs”. Which of the following could be added to the discussion of this chart: In short, the overall picture doesn’t look too gloomy/ presents a grim outlook / is not as bad as we may expect/ is worse than we may have expected.
13.   Watch: Why did Saudi Arabia launch its “Vision 2030” initiative? Why can’t Saudi Arabia continue as it is? Because if it did, it would collapse due to lack of…
14.   Watch: The innovations described in the video could protect against collapse because they can…
15.   Look at the answer you gave to question 12. Would you revise your answer now? If so how?
16.   It is stated in the text that “Any collapse – any fall from the ladder – risks being permanent” in the case of modern civilization. Why is this the case? Because…
17.   How is the situation modern civilization finds its self in described in the text? It is described as…
18.   What is the take home point made in the text?
Use all the information you have acquired to write an essay describing the reasons why modern society could collapse.

This highly topical text draws on history to outline the dangers faced my modern civilization and the reasons why its fall might be much more catastrophic than that of previous civilizations. All the points that are made are supported with examples. I have added videos to some of the questions both to make that section of the text easier to follow and to add variety.
1.       A civilization that took its own life
2.        A rapid and enduring loss of population, identity and socio-economic complexity
3.       I would argue that the lessons of agrarian empires are applicable to our post-18th Century period of industrial capitalism
4.       Collapse may be a normal phenomenon for civilisations, regardless of their size and stage
5.       As any technical system grows in complexity and connectedness, the probability of cascading failure increases
6.       By examining the trends that preceded historic collapses and see how they are unfolding today.
7.       When climatic stability changes, the results can be disastrous.
8.       Collapse can occur when societies overshoot the carrying capacity of their environment.
9.       Cheap workers and a top heavy society undermines collective solidarity and political turbulence follows.
10.   Societies eventually collapse under the weight of their own accumulated complexity and bureaucracy/ the weight of their own accumulated complexity and bureaucracy
11.   An external shock OR war
12.   Presents a grim outlook
13.   To restructure its economy to turn the biggest oil producer in the world into a global industrial conglomerate/ economic diversity
14.   mitigate against pressures such as climate change
15.   Yes, there are some reasons to be optimistic, thanks to our ability to innovate and diversify away from disaster.
16.   The higher you climb, the larger the fall
17.   A progress trap
18.   We will only march into collapse if we advance blindly. We are only doomed if we are unwilling to listen to the past

Thursday, September 26, 2019


The term plant blindness may set you wondering as you may not have heard the term before. In fact, plant blindness is a problem many of us suffer from. The consequences of this problem for humanity and the planet are phenomenal so it may be a good idea to find out more about it. When you have completed your research, write an essay.
Refer to my second blog, The Essay Archive, for sample essays:
Familiarize yourself with the issue
·         Plant blindness: a short film
Reading material to make notes on
Click on the links to access the video, power point presentation and reading material
·         Why plant blindness matters – and what you can do about it
·         Plant blindness
Videos to watch and take notes from
·         Plant blindness
·         A cure for plant blindness

Friday, September 6, 2019


Palliative care is a vital part of any health care system or at least should be. Unfortunately, it is virtually non-existent in many developing and underdeveloped countries. Do your research and discover what exactly palliative care entails and how it benefits patients. When you are ready write an essay on the topic.
Refer to my second blog, The Essay Archive, for sample essays:
Familiarize yourself with the issue
·         What is palliative care?
Reading material to make notes on
·         It could be any day now: why how you die matters Make sure to watch the video and read the text.
·         The role of palliative care at the end of life
Videos to watch and take notes from
·         The importance of palliative care in global health

Tuesday, August 20, 2019


Ageism, or stereotyping and judging on the basis of age, is a worldwide problem. No one is born ageist; ageism is an attitude fostered by society and has a host of negative consequences. Do your research and discover what it entails and write an essay concerning the issue.
Familiarize yourself with the issue
·         Ageism Towards Older People - Motion Graphics
Reading material to make notes on
·         Are you ready? What you need to know about ageing
·         Ageism
Also click: Frequently asked questions about ageism and 10 misconceptions about ageing
·         Ageing in America: Ageism and General Attitudes Towards Growing Old and the Elderly
Videos to watch and take notes from
·         The harmful effects of ageism
·         Lets end ageism
·         Rethinking age and ageism

Tuesday, July 30, 2019


By: Roman Krznaric
Level of difficulty:***
·         Short term thinking is creating long term problems
·         The problem of “short termism” in Western democracies
1.      Start reading the text. Where does the introduction end? Now answer the questions.
·         What unrealistic expectation Hume entertained(had) proved to be wrong?
·         We can understand from the comparison of the man on the street and politicians that the two groups think along radically different lines/ think along different lines/ think along similar lines/ think along identical lines.
2.      Continue reading. Where does the second section end? What subtitle would you give this section? Now answer the questions.
·         What is this section going to be about?
·         Why is the political business cycle described as myopic?
·         The NRA (The National Rifle Association) spends a lot on lobbying to protect current gun laws in the US. We can describe the activities of this group as an effort to…
·         What does “It” refer to in the phrase “It’s a blind spot”? Be precise.
·         Write the following sentence out in full eliminating the referral and making it more formal: “But that is the reality.”
3.      Continue reading. Where does the next section end? What subtitle would you give this section? Now answer the questions.
·         Treating the future as tempus nullius is unethical because we are, in fact, …
·         Where in the paragraph beginning “Some suggest…” would you place the following: because he would be unaffected by lobbying or being re-elected.?
·         The case of Sweden has been included in the paragraph to support the contention that…
·         Finland and Wales are both examples of places which …
·         The major concern with regard to the above projects and ones like them is the fact that…
·         Watch the following What David Suzuki is proposing is essentially what the Athenians called…… Why would legislators in such a system be more effective in taking a long term view? Use your own words.
4.      Continue reading to the end. What subtitle would you give this section? Now answer the questions.
·         What surprising observation was made at the end of the research conducted by Tatsuyoshi Saijo and his team?
·         Watch the following: What is unique about this organization?
·         Refer to the previous question. What gives these people the right to file such a law suit? Use your own words.
·         We will be forced to stop disregarding the rights of our grandchildren and great grandchildren due to…
·         The writer feels we are perfectly justified in believing in a form of democracy that empowers future generations because…
First alternative:
Read the following short text: If I ruled the world: Martin Reese Now write an essay in which you discuss to what extent you agree with his ideas.
Second alternative:
Refer back to the second video provided at the beginning of the task. Write an essay discussing to what extent you agree with the suggestions the speaker makes.
This text is based on a unique opinion: future generations should also be considered when making decisions that will impact them. So far, the rights of future generations have been completely ignored but as the text points out, a gradual shift has started and may well end up being the silver bullet against climate change. The questions are a mixture of text explicit and text implicit questions with the majority taking the latter form.
1.      At the end of paragraph three./ The institutions of government (such as political representatives and parliamentary debates) would serve to temper our impulsive and selfish desires, and foster society’s long-term interests and welfare. /Think along similar lines
2.      It ends with the phrase “…render them voiceless and airbrush their futures out of the political picture.”/ Possible title: The causes of short-termism/ the roots of the fixation on the now/ Because it ignores long-term issues (out of which they can make little immediate political capital)/ Secure near-term benefits for themselves (while passing the longer-term costs onto the rest of society)/ the fact that the citizens of tomorrow are granted no rights/ The reality is that future generations are disenfranchised in the same way that slaves or women were in the past
3.      It ends with the phrase “…politicians obsessed with the next election. / Possible subtitle: How Not To Colonize the Future / Colonising the future (This is the shortest answer but the following sentence will do too. Start “Treating…”) / After “safely” /Democracies have a better record on long-term thinking and planning than authoritarian regimes / have already embarked on pioneering experiments to empower the citizens of the future /They are too reformist and do little to alter the structure of democratic government at a fundamental level/Sortition, possible answer: they would not be elected, they would not need to worry about getting re-elected, they would not have political concerns /
4.      Possible subtitle: Is it possible? /The future residents devise far more radical and progressive city plans compared to current ones. / the plaintiffs are in their teens or early 20s/Possible answer: they are fighting for their own future (they are children at the moment)/ the twin threats of ecological collapse and technological risk/ Democracy has taken many forms and been reinvented many times