Environmental Studies 12: Energy and the Environment (2007)

Spring 2007 Prof. Andy Friedland

Lectures: Tu/Th 10-11:50 111 Steele Hall

X-hour: W 3-3:50 646-3609

Room: 101 Fairchild Office hours: W/Th 2-3 & by app’t

Course Description: Every few years, it seems there’s another “energy crisis.” In the 1970s, the interruption of oil supplies from the Persian Gulf caused economic upheaval and inconvenience in the United States and other oil-importing nations and raised the issue of energy supply and scarcity. Energy production and use play key roles in a variety of environmental issues such as urban air pollution, acid deposition, environmental justice, the contamination and eutrophication of coastal ecosystems, and global climate change. Today, the use of energy and subsequent contribution to heat-trapping gases in the atmosphere is receiving the most attention. Hence a “sustainable” energy system must address questions of both resource scarcity and the long-term environmental impacts of energy technologies. This course provides an examination of principles governing the different energy supplies western societies have used, the impacts of energy use, and the major challenges that lie ahead in moving towards more sustainable energy systems in western society. We will draw on concepts and methods from environmental science, environmental studies, energy engineering, and occasionally economics. The course will teach students to analyze a variety of sustainable energy futures from an interdisciplinary applied science perspective. The main objective of this course is to give an understanding of the challenges that will confront our developed country in achieving a sustainable energy future.


Boyle, G. (ed.). 2004. Renewable Energy: Power for a Sustainable Planet, 2e. Oxford University Press, New York. Chapters as assigned in syllabus.

Boschert, S. 2006. Plug-in Hybrids: The Cars That Will Recharge America. New Society Publishers, British Columbia. Start reading this now and finish by April 26.

All blogs by Lisa Margonelli (http://pipeline.blogs.nytimes.com/ ) and columns related to energy by Thomas Friedman (you must sign up for TimesSelect which is free at NYTimes.com) as well as readings available from the Rocky Mountain Institute (www.rmi.org).

Handouts and supplementary readings identified on Blackboard or given out in class.

Films and Documentaries on Reserve:

Who Killed The Electric Car, The China Syndrome, Oil On Ice, An Inconvenient Truth

Course Requirements and Grading:

Course evaluations will be based on one energy brief (15%), a midterm examination (25%), a final examination (25%), a carbon audit (20%), and “Most Viable Energy Choice” Poster (done in groups of 5) (15%). The carbon audit will involve calculating your own energy consumption for the previous year and converting that to fossil carbon emissions.

READ THIS!!! The Academic Honor Principle applies to all Dartmouth students at all times. I recognize the importance of the Honor Principle and expect you to do so as well. I encourage students with disabilities, including “invisible” disabilities like chronic diseases, learning disabilities, and psychiatric disabilities to discuss with us after class or during office hours appropriate accommodations that might be helpful to them. Some students may wish to take part in religious observances that occur during this academic term. If you have a religious observance that conflicts with your participation in the course, please see me before the end of the second week of the term to discuss appropriate accommodations.

Lectures and Readings

Date Topic Reading

“Ch” refers to the text edited by Boyle; links to all other articles can be found in the document entitled “Readings” which has been posted on Blackboard.

3/27 Introduction and Energy Conversions Ch 1, Blackboard

Part I: The Status Quo in the US

3/29 Fossil Fuels and Ethanol Ch 4, 10 (to p. 400)

4/03 Energy Demand Blackboard

4/05 Existing Electricity Supply including Hydroelectric Ch 5 (to p. 156)

Part II: Environmental Impacts of Conventional Technologies

4/10 Global Climate Change-recent developments Blackboard

4/12 Impacts of Fossil Fuels on Human Health Blackboard

4/12 7 PM Mandatory evening lecture in Filene Auditorium

“Global Climate Change & Emerging Infectious Diseases”

Dr. Paul Epstein, Harvard Medical School Blackboard

4/17 Impacts of Fossil Fuels and Acid Deposition Blackboard

4/19 Nuclear Power China Syndrome Blackboard

4/23 (Mon) Energy Brief Due at 3 PM

4/24 Power Plant Tour Blackboard

4/25 (Wed) X-hour Power Plant Tour alternate time

4/26 The Special Case of Personal Transportation Blackboard

5/01 In-class Exam (closed book)

Part III: Renewable Energy Systems

5/03 Objectives for A Successful Renewable Energy Program Blackboard

5/08 “Creating Your Poster” Workshop

Guest instructor: Susan Simon

Meet in Starr Instructional Center in Jones Media Center

5/10 Further Investigations into Personal Choices Blackboard

5/15 Solar Thermal and PV Ch 2,3

5/16 (Wed) Carbon Audit Due at 3 PM

5/17 Wind Ch 7

5/22 Hydroelectric: A Closer Look Ch 5

5/24 Weighing the Energy Sources and the Costs Ch 10

5/29 Posters due--Poster Session in Class

6/02 Two-hour In-class Final Exam during exam period (closed book)