GEOG 30
Geographic Perspectives on Sustainability and Human-Environment Systems

Learning Activity: Climate Diplomacy

PrintPrint

For this learning activity, you will first complete a short reading assignment and then use this reading as a starting point for the written learning activity assignment.

The previous page illustrated the challenge of achieving collective action on climate change. This challenge, as well as some of the gritty realities of international diplomacy, can be seen from the private diplomatic cables (i.e., communications) of the U.S. State Department that were leaked to the public beginning November 2010 via the WikiLeaks organization. The cable leak was controversial for many reasons, not least of which was the question of whether State Department cables should have been made public in the first place. Since the cables became public, journalists and others have used them to illuminate diplomatic affairs of the U.S. and many other countries, including diplomacy on climate change.

Reading Assignment: WikiLeaks Diplomatic Cables

Please read the article, WikiLeaks cables reveal how US manipulated climate accord, by Damian Carrington, head of environmental journalism at The Guardian. The Guardian is one of the largest and most reputable newspapers in the United Kingdom. The Guardian is also one of the five major international news organizations that assisted WikiLeaks in the cable leak, along with El País (Spain), Le Monde (France), Der Spiegel (Germany), and The New York Times.

As you read this article, please consider:

First, what strategies and tactics are being used in climate change negotiations by the United States and other countries? What goals are being sought? Do you agree with this?

Second, what do you think of the diplomatic cable leak? Is it good that you and everyone else has access to this information?

Finally, does the cable leak make climate change collective action easier or more difficult? Why?

The leaked diplomatic cables raise several important issues about climate change. These are the focus of the learning activity.

Learning Activity Directions

Part I: Create your entry

Your entry should have three sections. 

1. Using the reading assignment article as a resource, draw a systems diagram connecting the WikiLeaks cables to climate change. The diagram should have at least six system components and the arrows should point in a logical direction and be explained. Be sure to include plenty of detail about the cables, about climate change, and about the connection(s) between the two. (NOTE: For help on creating a diagram or concept map using Google Docs or help on how to embed these images, see the "Creating Diagrams or Concept Maps with Google Docs" page in Resources.)

2. In a paragraph of 250-350 words, explain the core ideas behind your diagram.

3. In another paragraph of 250-350 words, drawing on concepts from this and other modules, describe your views on the issues. For example: Should the State Department cables have been made public? Should the United States be conducting climate change diplomacy in the fashion that it has been? What should be done?

Post your response

To post your Learning Activity response, go to the Module 9 Learning Activity: Climate Diplomacy Forum in Canvas.

  • Select Reply from the instructor's original post.
  • Copy/paste your initial/original response to the Learning Activity into the text box from a saved Word document (to prevent losing work if the page refreshes, etc.).
  • To embed your systems diagram in your discussion post, first upload the image into your user files under your Canvas Account (instructions here). Then you can embed the image in the discussion post (instructions here). 
  • Select Post Reply. Your response is now visible to your classmates and your instructor. Check in to the discussion forum often throughout the week to post and respond to comments and questions.

Part II: Read and comment on other students' entries

Read other students' entries

Read through entries by about 20 other students to see some other ideas. Pick two of these students to write comments on their entries. Pick students whose entries do not already have a comment on them. If all of the entries already have comments, then pick students whose entries only have one comment on them. Also, pick students whose entries are interesting to you for any reason.

Post a comment

Post a comment on the two entries you have chosen. Briefly introduce yourself and what you wrote for your own entry. Then respond to their entry in some way by using concepts from this or other modules. You might compare and contrast your own entry with theirs. You might ask a question, or pose a challenge based on course concepts. As always, keep your comments polite and respectful.

The comment should be 4-6 sentences long.

To post a comment on TWO of your classmates' Learning Activities, go to the Module 9 Learning Activity: Climate Diplomacy Forum in Canvas and follow these steps with TWO Learning Activity posts:

  • Select Reply from a student’s Learning Activity post.
  • Copy/paste your response into the text box from a saved Word document (to prevent losing work if the page refreshes, etc.).
  • Select Post Reply. Your response is now visible to your classmates and your instructor. Check in to the discussion forum often throughout the week to post and respond to comments and questions.

Grading Criteria

You will be graded on the quality of your participation. See the Grading Rubric for specifics on how this assignment will be graded.