CS492/692 - Spring 2022 - Assignment 4

Computers and climate change


There has been increasing attention on the issue of climate change, with concern on how the effects of global warming may result in longlasting impact on the current generation of young adults and as well on the children they may one day bring into this world.

In this essay, students will work in groups of 5 (with groups being formed by the instructor and the TAs, in an effort to balance the talents of the students of the class) to brainstorm and reflect on: (i) what are some of the central concerns with climate change today (ii) to what extent has computerization contributed to this problem (iii) to what extent can computerization assist in addressing the problem (iv) what can governments and industry do in order to make progress on computers and climate change (v) what can individuals do, and what does the future hold

A suitable introduction and conclusion should be part of the essay as well. As climate change is a broad concern, groups should first of all select a subset of issues to discuss, which will form the basis of part (i) above. The cornerstones of the writeup are: clear introduction of the context of discussion; examination of negatives and positives; well-founded recommendations for the future.

References should be cited where appropriate and some background research is expected. However, students are to devote considerable energy to incorporating some novel ideas and observations; aim to include arguments that may be absent from the essays submitted from other groups. Suitable depth and breadth to discussion will be expected, as well. Recommendations should offer some concrete steps, worked out in detail.

The assignment is due on Thursday Jun 23 at 10am and is worth 10 marks. It should be on the order of 2500 words. (Some kind of introduction should be included, in addition to the coverage of the five core subtopics listed above).


Climate change is arguably one of the most pressing social issues today. This assignment challenges you to think about the ways in which computerization has contributed to the problems that we face, and also to imagine where computers can come to the rescue, for the future. In going through this mental exercise, you wlll hopefully have a new-found appreciation for how the field in which you are conducting your studies still forms an essential part of the discussion.

The focus for this assignment is on open-ended thinking, guided by current articles on the topic. There is no right or wrong answer. Students are urged to be creative and constructive in their recommendations.