• Harvey Thorleifson, Chair
    Minnesota Geological Survey
  • Carrie Jennings, Vice Chair
    Minnesota Geological Survey
  • David Bush, Technical Program Chair
    University of West Georgia
  • Jim Miller, Field Trip Chair
    University of Minnesota Duluth
  • Curtis M. Hudak, Sponsorship Chair
    Foth Infrastructure & Environment, LLC


Paper No. 7
Presentation Time: 10:30 AM


MYERS, James D., Geology & Geophysics, Univeristy of Wyoming, Department 3006, 1000 E. University Ave, Laramie, WY 82071 and BUSS, Alan R., Elementary and Early Childhood Education, University of Wyoming, 1000 E. University Ave, Laramie, WY 82071,

Case studies are the laboratory centerpiece of several UW Earth science courses. Unlike most cases, these place students in professional roles in organizations dealing with resource issues where they perform typical tasks. For relevancy and immediacy, cases are set in different social contexts. Whereas background content is provided via the Web, activities are done on paper. Cases consist of three modules completed in successive lab sessions. One case focuses on coal mining, power plant selection and the reduction of carbon emissions in China, i.e. the grand challenges of energy and climate change.

geology: Student groups, in the role of coal company geologists, evaluate four potential coal prospects using topographic maps and associated cores from exploratory wells. Given their exploration budget, groups devise and conduct a drilling program to locate and define existing coal seams and evaluate their thickness, orientation, rank, quality and variability. Core results are used to complete cross-sections and construct structural contour maps. In oral and written reports, groups propose which prospects to develop and how.

economics: Groups assume the role of an environmental NGO to assess the externalities, e.g anthropogenic CO2 emissions, etc., associated with different electricity generation technologies.. Annual and lifetime CO2 and SO2 emissions, as well as fuel needs and operating costs for different fuel-and-power plant configurations, i.e. SCPC, IGCC, nuclear, w/ or w/o CCS, etc., are calculated. The impact of a carbon tax on the choice of electricity generation technology is examined by introducing a $50/ton carbon tax. Group results are combined and explored in a whole lab discussion.

social: Groups, playing the role of countries preparing for a new round of international climate change agreements, explore how negotiation can be used to craft international agreements to reduce carbon emissions.. Discussions center on five CO2 reduction mechanisms (cap & trade, carbon sinks, clean technologies, renewable energy, energy efficiency, nuclear power). Groups define their national priorities, calculate the impact of proposed reduction mechanisms on their country and selects those consistent with their priorities. They decide whether or not to support the proposed climate treaty.

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