Write a short essay of
about two typed pages, or about 1,000
words; 14 pt font; references, illustrations and/or data tables not included in
the 2 pages)
on the following topic. Think carefully about it. There is not really a
correct answer, but a variety of opinions. I want yours.
There have been many interruptions of the natural world by humans since they
came to North America (at least 15,000 years ago). Among these are dams,
highways, urban development, agriculture, industrialization; in the earlier history,
over hunting of large mammals) you may think of many more. Choose one of the
ways that humans have interfered with natural processes and landscapes, and
discuss the nature of the interference and the effects of the interference. The
interactions you describe can be from the Pacific Northwest, some place you have
been, or maybe in your home town or city. It may involve big things (like coastal
development broadly considered) or small things (over-pumping groundwater for a
small town water supply). Describe the interaction, pro and con, take a position,
and defend it. Is the interference on balance, and in your opinion, positive, negative
As with any opinion essay, you should start with a statement of the problem (your
thesis). For example: “Construction of dams along the Columbia River over the
past 70 years has created conflict between farmers, fishermen and environmental
activists.” Then, in the remainder of the essay, develop and defend your thesis
point-by-point in a logical way.
Finally, finish with a strong concluding statement that expresses your views on the
issue concisely. “Columbia River dams have created economic benefits from
agriculture and recreation that far outweigh the detrimental effects that they have
had on salmon populations.”
Two pages is not a lot of space for an essay and there is an art to making a coherent
argument in a short narrative. The purpose of this assignment is to help you
develop skills related to effective argument in an essay.
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