Environmental Studies 12: Energy and the Environment

Spring 2008 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, global climate change and the price oil (>$105/barrel for the first time ever) are receiving the most attention. Hence a “sustainable” energy system must address questions of both resource scarcity and the long-term environmental and economic 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.


Wolfson, Richard. 2008. Energy, Environment, and Climate. W.W. Norton, New York. Chapters as assigned in syllabus.
All blogs by Lisa Margonelli (http://pipeline.blogs.nytimes.com/) and columns related to energy by Thomas Friedman (NY Times) 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/Documentaries on Reserve in Jones Media Center (some available via streaming):
Who Killed The Electric Car, The China Syndrome, Oil On Ice, A Crude Awakening, Wind Over Water

Course Requirements and Grading:
Course evaluation will be based on a carbon audit (15%), an energy brief (15%), a midterm examination (25%), a final examination (25%), a “Most Viable Energy Choice” Poster (done in groups of 5) (15%) and attendance and participation (5%). 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 Chapter in the book by Wolfson; links to all other articles can be found in the “Readings” section of Blackboard.

3/25 Introduction and Energy Conversions Ch 1, 2, Blackboard


Part I: The Status Quo in the US (with frequent comparisons to renewables)

3/27 Current Fuel Supply (with hints to the future) Ch 3, 5 (à 130)
4/01 Energy Demand Ch 5 (130à end)
4/03 Existing Electricity Supply including Hydroelectric Ch 10 (292à 304)

Part II: Environmental Impacts of Conventional Technologies

4/08 Global Climate Change & Future Energy Programs Ch 12
4/10 Impacts of Fossil Fuels and Acid Deposition Ch 6
4/10 (Thurs) Carbon Audit Due at 3 PM
4/15 Impacts of Conventional Fuels on Human Health pgs. 199-210
4/17 Nuclear Power Ch 7 China Syndrome
4/22 Power Plant Tour—Meet at Power Plant Ch 4, 9, Blackboard
4/23 (Wed) X-hour Power Plant Tour alternate time
4/24 “Creating Your Poster” Workshop
Guest instructor: Susan Simon
Meet in Starr Instructional Center in Jones Media Center
4/24 (Thurs) Energy Brief Due at 3 PM
4/24 Optional Evening Lecture:
"Contaminated Without Consent: How Toxic Chemicals in Air, Food and Water Violate Human Rights" Dr. Sandra Steingraber
7 PM Filene Auditorium

Part III: Renewable Energy Systems

4/29 Ethanol: Part of the Solution or Part of the Problem? Blackboard
Guest Lecture: Professor David Courard-Hauri
Drake University

5/01 Objectives for A Successful Renewable Energy Program Ch 10
5/06 In-class Exam (closed book)
5/08 Personal Choices, Residences & Renewable Energy Ch 8, Blackboard
5/15 Solar Thermal and PV Ch 9, Blackboard
5/13 Wind and Hydrogen Ch 11, Blackboard,
Wind Over Water
5/15 Hydroelectric: A Closer Look Blackboard
5/20 The Special Case of Personal Transportation Who Killed Elec Car?
5/22 Weighing the Energy Sources and the Costs Ch 15, 16

5/27 Posters due--Poster Session in Class
Take-home final handed out in class
6/02 Take-home Final Exam due at 10 AM