Carl Sagan was one of the most well
known advocates of
a scientific understanding
of the Universe
to better appreciate
the beauty and fragility of our existence on a habitable
planet. In 1990 he was invited to deliver the Keynote Lecture at the 5
Forum, organized by the Institute for Emerging Issues at NC State University.
link to the lecture
Please watch the lecture [
the fellow with the objectively spectacular eyebrows wraps up
his intro at around 6:12 in the video
], and reflect on it in light of the ideas and questions
have been exploring in class. Then write at least 1 page (
spaced, Times New
point font, 1
) on your reflections. In particular:
Do you agree or disagree with Sagan’s arguments regarding the importance
of scientific literacy a
mongst the general public?
What are the “lessons” that can be taken from Earth’s nearest neighbors in
the solar system? How do these lessons relate to recent or ongoing
challenges facing the human species?
This lecture was delivered over a quarter centu
ry ago. What are some of the
predicted outcomes of increasing atmospheric CO
that Sagan outlines?
How many of these continue to be issues moving forward?
What is the geopolitical analogy Sagan makes to argue that climate change
should be addressed aggr
essively even if one considers it a remote
contingency? Do you buy this analogy? Why or why not?
What are some of the potential mitigation strategies
for dealing with these
that Sagan suggests? Do you agree with his assessment of the
and drawbacks of these approaches?
The above questions are only meant as suggestions to catalyze your thinking, but any
substantive thoughts that you have in response to the lecture and how it relates to either
the course material or your own experience
would be fully appropriate. Please feel free to
discuss your ideas about the lecture with others [indeed…I would love it if you did!], but
your response should be original and
written in your own words
. Copying from each
other or from other sources
will not be tolerated.
The writing assignments will be graded based on the following criteria:
format (length, spacing, etc.)
to the course materials, etc
thoughtfulness of discussion
assignment will be due via submission to Canvas by 11:59pm (EST) on
Tuesday, December 3.