WORLD BUILDING PART 1:
EARTH PHYSICAL FEATURES
WORDS: 1500 (approximate)
% OF FINAL: 15%
MARKING RUBRIC: pdf (note this pdf is from 2017 but we’re still following it)
READING: IPCC AR5 WG I (The Physical Science Basis) Summary for Policymakers (2013) link and the IPCC Global Warming of 1.5C Summary for Policymakers (2018) link
POTENTIAL CITATIONS: Citations should be from peer reviewed sources, OR from government, UN, white paper reports that present data from peer reviewed sources (i.e. the IPCC reports). Newspaper articles do not count since they are likely reporting on a source that would be considered peer reviewed. Please use Chicago format (link).
DUE: hand in physical copy before February 13th class starts.
Note that this first assignment will primarily focus on the future projection of the physical characteristics of a specific locale of your choosing (geographic features, native biodiversity, climate). In general, please prepare a document that provides the following headings and information.
Some ground rules:
– No narratives that involve visits from space aliens (i.e. inclusion of unexplained technology, etc).
– Game must be predominantly set on Earth (not in space, etc – if you really want this, see Dave or Allen, and we may grant permission for one game element to be set off earth).
– No celestial events (i.e. meteorite crashing to Earth, etc)
– Citations must be credible and of high quality. In lieu of original peer review science papers (which can be difficult to read), you can cite UN, government reports, credible NGO white papers. If you are using news sources, be wary of the publication – not all sources are created equal (look at our course reading list for examples of reputable news providers)! Still, with these news sources, they are likely citing a peer reviewed study or government report, so best to seek out and cite this primary source that the news article is discussing. Please format your references using Chicago format (link)
– Please be aware that we will not be nit-picking over your specific projections when we mark this assignment. However, we do want to make sure that your descriptions have come from an obvious effort where you did try to find out what you can about future prospects of a particular place – for instance, we expect you to look up credible information sources, and then extrapolate (if need be) using evidence based logic and rationale. Future claims that are extreme are not out of the question – indeed, they may even be more interesting, because your rationalization for that projected reality has to be all the more strong! However, be aware that you will be penalized for projections that would clearly be incorrect.
2120 (you can also pick a season) Note that we realize that many things you will look at will project only to 2100. You can use and cite this data for this assignment but it’s also ok if you want to extrapolate a little bit for your world building. Just do so in a credible manner.
Place (on planet Earth):
Current name/future name (if different), or coordinates if currently not named.
Current to 2120 Emissions Scenario (~100 words, 2 marks):
Take a look at the various IPCC emission scenarios. These were generated in 2000 and generally attempt to standardize the various different emission/economic storylines that have been used in modeling research (there are lots!) Although no longer used in the IPCC assessment reports, these main categories (A1, A2, B1, B2) and their subcategories are a good start to thinking about how society might change over the next 100 years. In this assignment’s section, pick one and briefly describe in your own words a plausible narrative of your version of the future Earth.
IPCC emission scenarios: https://archive.ipcc.ch/pdf/special-reports/spm/sres-en.pdf (can take a look at Figure 1)
Summary on wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Special_Report_on_Emissions_Scenarios
Current to 2120 Representation Concentration Pathway (RCP) (~100 words, 2 marks):
In 2014, the IPCC changed its way of standardizing emissions scenarios, by focusing more the actual energetics of how greenhouse gases will influence the level of energy kept within the Earth’s atmosphere (in fact, the different categories of RCPs are named after the amount of Watts/metre2 is predicted to be involved). Note that having this chosen will help you figure out a number of the other sections in this assignment. For this assignment’s section, we will need you to choose one of the main RCPs and using your own words, briefly provide a description of how emissions are changed over the next 100 years.
RCP descriptions: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Representative_Concentration_Pathways
2120 Global CO2 ppm levels (~100 words not including citation, 2 marks):
The number you use here should work with with evidence based projections. Please provide a short answer on why you chose this number, as well as a citation of the paper or figure you used in order to reach this conclusion (note that this citation must reflect proper peer reviewed evidence based literature – a specific paper or element from the most recent IPCC AR is o.k.).
2120 versus current Global Mean Temperature Change (~100 words not including citation, 2 marks):
The number you use here should work with evidence based projections. Please provide a short answer on why you chose this number, as well as a citation of the paper or figure you used in order to reach this conclusion (note that this citation must reflect proper peer reviewed evidence based literature – a specific paper or element from the most recent IPCC AR is o.k.).
Geographic Features of Your Specific Locale in 2120 (~400 words, each consideration about 100 words, 8 marks total)
For this assignment, we will focus more on the physical terrain, so there’s no need to provide details on urban elements (that will come later if it’s a part of your game). Note that these projections must still be grounded in an element of reality. You can consult the IPCC AR report, as well as sources that report on city projections for instance (please provide a citations). Here, you will need to provide a brief summary that highlights the following considerations, including a short sentence on rationale:
(1) description of 2120 geographic terrain (coastal, forest, mountainous, etc) and how it differs from current;
(2) description of 2120 sea level, and how it differs from current;
(3) comments regarding water access in 2120, and how it differs from current; and
(4) descriptions of other possible non-living natural resources in the immediate area, and how the 2120 version differs from 2020.
Native Biodiversity Features of Your Specific Locale in 2120 (~400 words, each consideration about 100 words, 8 marks total)
For this assignment, we will focus more on native biodiversity, so there’s no need to imagine new forms of life via genetic technology (that will come later). Note that these projections must still be grounded in an element of reality. You can consult the IPCC reports, as well as sources that report on projections for instance (please provide a citations). Here you will need to provide a brief summary that highlights the following considerations, including a short sentence on rationale:
(1) general* descriptions of 2120 native botanical species versus current (i.e. forests for example, or lack thereof);
(2) general* descriptions of 2120 native zoological species versus current (animals);
(3) general* descriptions of 2120 microbial considerations, such as infectious disease; and
(4) suitability of the general area for agricultural practices and/or general sustainability of life.
* No need to list off specific species, unless there are specific species that play an especially significant role.
Climate and Weather Trends of Your Specific Locale in 2120 (300 words, 6 marks total)
For this section, please provide the following (note daily average per month, not individual daily averages over the three months – i.e. tables will have three columns, one for each month, not 90 columns, one for each day of the three months):
(1) 1 table outlining three months (roughly equivalent to the season you chose) of total average precipitation amounts.
(2) 1 table outlining three months (roughly equivalent to the season you chose) of average temperature forecast.
Do your best to construct these weather forecasts using available evidence based information (local estimates of temperature for instance can be found in IPCC reports, precipitation patterns will be trickier, but see what you can come up with). For instance, you can consider how changes in thermohaline circulation, global wind and water patterns could affect things (on top of the general increase in temperature due to greenhouse gases). Accompanying these two tables, please write a 200 word description describing your rationale – provide a citation(s) that backs up your projections.
(3) A 100 word description of the possibility of extreme weather conditions, as well as a description of what this might look like. Again, provide a citation that backs up your future descriptions.