Wednesday, February 7, 2007

This is a working version of the course syllabus for a class I will teach Fall 2007. Right now I will call it pOILicy.

Businesses, policy makers, security specialists, and regular citizens around the world are interested in the many issues surrounding energy and climate change. What will be the impacts of climate change? What should be the policy response at the local/state/national level? Why has the price of oil reached levels not seen since the energy crisis of the late 1970s? Are we running out of oil? Or, is the problem too much oil?

This course aims to explore the past, present, and future of energy and climate change policy. We begin with a brief discussion of world energy markets. What has world energy consumption looked like over time? What sources of energy are the biggest? Who produces it? Who consumes it? What have been the impacts in the energy markets of the development of India and China?

We will highlight the last 150 years of fossil fuels and related policy history, paying particular attention to oil. Who was John Rockefeller and what was Standard Oil? What was the first energy crisis? Why? Are price controls a good thing or a bad thing? What is "the oil weapon"? What has been the role of OPEC?

We will study the issue of Peak Oil. What is it, and what might it mean for the economy? What policies should we be thinking about as a response? Can private industry play a role in alleviating some of the potential problems? Will the problems simply fix themselves?

Many people predict that the problems of climate change will not solve themselves. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has stated with increased certainty that human burning of fossil fuels since 1750 has lead to on overall warming of the climate. What ever happened to Kyoto? What is a carbon market?

We will then shift our focus to the future. What will be the impacts of business as usual climate policies? How are governments responding? What sorts of policies are being considered to combat climate change? Should I buy a hybrid? Should I wait for an electric car? Will alternative energy sources save us?

Course Layout:

The course is laid out in three sections. The first part of the course will be dominated by a discussion of the past and current state of the world energy and oil markets. Topics include the history of oil, the “Peak Oil” debate, and the role of oil in global economic markets and geo-politics. The second half of the course will be dominated by a discussion of global climate change. We will discuss the history of climate change including the Kyoto Protocol, current policies aimed at combating climate change including carbon taxes and cap-and-trade carbon markets, and proposed policies to combat climate change in the future, including a discussion of the “Stern Review.” The third part of the course will be dominated by student presentations and talk of the future. We will explore and discuss current attempts to break the “addiction” to oil and fossil fuels. We will discuss such alternatives as oil shale, tar sands, ethanol, bio-diesel, solar, wind, nuclear, and hydrogen

Topics to be Covered:

Current Global Energy Markets
Oil and World History
Oil and Global Geo-Politics
Peak Oil
The Hotelling Model of Non-Renewable Resources and Financial Markets
Climate Change Background and the Kyoto Protocol
The Current Climate Change Debate
Climate Change Policies of the Future
The Role of the Automobile and American Suburban Development Patterns


Your grade for the course will be a weighted average of course participation, homework, midterm, a presentation, and a final paper.

Problem Sets 15%
Participation 20%
Midterm 20%
Presentation 20%
Final Paper 25%

Final Paper and Presentation- A large determinant of your success in this class will be based on a class presentation and final paper. You will be required to lead class discussion around an Alternative Energy Source. This presentation is to be researched and prepared in concert with me (we will work together to choose readings and prepare for the presentation). You will use the results of your research and presentation to prepare a final paper describing the state of the alternative energy source, the benefits of the alternative energy source, and the problems facing its adoption.

Detailed Topics

History of Oil
Yergin, Daniel. The Prize

Recent Oil History
Oil and Geo-Politics
Terrorism and Oil

Future of Oil
Peak Oil
Hirsch, Robert, et al. Report.
Heinberg, Richard. The Party's Over.

Hotelling Model of Non-Renewable Resources
The Role of Futures Markets

Climate Change
History of the IPCC
IPCC's 4th Report
Summary for Policymakers

Alleghenny Front News Analysis: IPCC Report Says Humans Drive Global Warming
Air date: Week of 02/07/2007

Climate Change Policy Instruments
Carbon Taxes
Carbon Offsets


Alternative Energy of the Future

Tar Sands
Oil Shale

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