Saturday, 29 March 2014

Market Failure_Part 1

There are several sources of market failure which will be covered in a series of blog posts. For starters, we will focus on market failure arising from externalities. 
  • Market failure is defined as the failure of the free market system to allocate resources in an optimum and efficient manner. Hence, societal welfare is not maximized.

Tip: Always remember to define key economics terms, especially if you are unsure of how to start your answer.
  • Define negative externality: External cost of production (or consumption depending on scenario) accrued to a third party uninvolved in the transaction between the buyer and seller. 

Tip: Formulate your answer in the context of the question by stating specifically what these external costs are through examples

                                                              Figure 1. 

Tip: In A level economics, using a framework and graphical analysis is very important. However, graphs are insufficient on their own so further elaboration is needed, while making references to the diagrams drawn.

Tip: Diagrams have to be well-labelled! 
  • Define the following in the context of the question: Marginal external benefit (MSB), Marginal private benefit (MPB), Marginal external cost (MEC), Marginal private cost (MPC)
  • Important assumptions to state: Perfect competition and absence of positive externalities (These assumptions are made in order to explain market failure arising from negative externality)
  • State that due to the pursuit of self interest, producers manufacture the good (if the external cost arises from consumption, this previous statement should be changed to ‘consumers buy the good’) up to the point where MPB = MPC
  • State that allocative efficiency is achieved at the point where MSB=MSC
  • Due to the presence of negative externality, there is a divergence between MSC and MPC (represented by the gap between MSC and MPC, which is also equivalent to MEC)
  • As a result, there is overconsumption of the good by (Q1 – QE) units. The area of deadweight loss is represented by shaded area in the diagram.
  • Since society’s welfare is not maximized, market failure has occurred.

*The explanation for market failure arising from positive externality follows a similar structure. Try it out for yourself!

Look out for more explanations other sources of market failure in the future! 

Saturday, 22 March 2014

Groundbreaking Earthquakes

If you have been following up on the news recently, there have been a few earthquakes in Chile and the US. To a layman, all earthquakes may look similar, save for the difference in intensity and magnitude. But as we all know, that is simply not true.

We first need to understand what earthquakes are before we can differentiate them. Earthquakes are essentially are the result of the release of the stress accumulated between rocks on the surface of the Earth. The surface of the earth is split into different plates, each with its own direction of movement. At the border of these plates, known as a fault line, friction will accumulate as they move against each other. Over time, as the amount of stress and friction accumulated exceeds the tensile strength of the rocks, the fault slips and releases the stress. This triggers the ground movement that we know as earthquakes.

One key difference between the faults is the direction of movement of these plates. Faults can be roughly classified into transform, reverse and normal faults. Transform faults are where plates are parallel to each other but they move in opposite directions as seen on the right.

From the diagram, the North American Plate is moving in a south-easterly direction whereas the Pacific Plate is moving in a north-westerly direction. The friction generate from this motion will thus trigger earthquakes such as those seen around Los Angeles earlier this week. The fault system on which Los Angeles and San Francisco lie on is known as the San Andreas fault.

On the other hand, the earthquake seen in Chile is a reverse fault. A reverse fault, as in the case of Chile, occurs when two plates converges and moves towards each other. From the diagram below, we can see that a continental plate and an oceanic plate are moving in opposite directions. In the case of Chile, they are the South American and Pacific plates respectively. As the oceanic Pacific plate is denser than the continental South American plate, it subducts beneath the continental plate. This movement generates a significant amount of stress along the fault line where these two plates meet. Once again, when the accumulation of stress exceeds the tensile stress of rocks on both plates, an earthquake occurs.

Of course, this is just a simple overview that seeks to shed light on the difference between the two earthquakes that has rattled us recently. If you wish to know more or have any other questions, please feel free to contact us or leave a comment below.

Sunday, 16 March 2014

Facebook Round-Up (2/3 - 8/3)

In case you missed on Facebook:

H2 Math: GC Trick To Solve Maclaurin’s Series Problems Quickly!

Eg. Find the Maclaurin’s expansion for y = (sec x)^(1/2)

1. Select “y=” and Enter the equation above into “Y1”

2. Go to graph and find the value of y at x=0 by selecting “2nd” --> “trace” --> “value”

3. Under “Y2”, Enter “d/dx (Y2) | x=x”. (You can key in “Y2” by going to “vars” --> “Y-vars” --> "Function" --> “Y2”)

4. Repeat step 2 to find y at x=0.

5. Under “Y3”, Enter “d/dx (Y3) | x=x”

6. Repeat step 2 to find y at x=0

From the 2nd, 4th and 6th step respectively, you get y=1, y=0 and y=0.5 from your GC. Hence, your Maclaurin’s expansion is y = 1 + 1/4 x^2 + …

Note: you should only use this method to check your answers rather than solve them, otherwise you may not be awarded working marks in school. Cambridge, on the other hand, may give benefit of doubt.

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Saturday, 15 March 2014

O Level Literature: Analysing poetry using SPECS and SLIMS

Poetry analysis using SPECS and SLIMS / WWI Poetry

(Above: Soldiers in WWI mounting an offensive)

The SPECS and SLIMS model is traditionally taught as a way to analyse poetry in O Levels and A Levels. Here is an outline of the model:

·         Subject-matter: What event, situation, or experience does the poem describe or record?
·         Purpose: What is the poet’s purpose in writing this – what message does he/she want to communicate?
·         Emotion: What is the predominant emotion/feeling/mood of the poem? Does the mood change during the poem? What emotions or feelings does the poet seek to evoke in the reader?
·         Craftsmanship: How does the poet achieve his/her effect? What specific techniques has he or she used in the making of this poem, and what is their effect?
·         Summary: What is the impact of the whole poem for you? How successful is it as a work of art? Does it successfully achieve the poet’s purpose?

SLIMS: How to analyse craftsmanship
·         Structure: How is the poem structured? Does it have a conventional structure such as sonnet, or an ode? Does it have stanzas with a regular number of lines, or any other interesting features of structural design?
·         Language: Is the language appropriate to subject and/or theme? What effect does the language have on the poem’s achievement?
·         Imagery: Are there any striking examples of similes, metaphors, personifications or symbols in the poem? What is their effect?
·         Movement: Does the poem have a regular (slow or fast) rhythm? What is the effect of any rhythmic qualities?
·         Sounds: Does the poem have any significant sound features? Is it musical? Does the poet use onomatopoeia, alliteration, or assonance? Does the poem rhyme? What are the effects of these features of sound on the achievement of the poem?

While the method is useful, it is important to note that not all aspects of the model are of equal importance. Different poems may prove richer in analysis for some areas compared to others. When you write an analysis, it is important that you tackle the most salient features first, since time is of the essence in an exam. However, SPECS and SLIMS can still be a handy way to remind yourself of what aspects of a poem you should consider during analysis.

Now let’s apply SPECS and SLIMS to an actual poem, Dreamers, by Siegfried Sassoon, one of the famed war poets in WWI.

Soldiers are citizens of death's grey land,
Drawing no dividend from time's to-morrows.  
In the great hour of destiny they stand,
Each with his feuds, and jealousies, and sorrows.  
Soldiers are sworn to action; they must win  
Some flaming, fatal climax with their lives.
Soldiers are dreamers; when the guns begin
They think of firelit homes, clean beds and wives.

I see them in foul dug-outs, gnawed by rats,
And in the ruined trenches, lashed with rain,  
Dreaming of things they did with balls and bats,[1]
And mocked by hopeless longing to regain  
Bank-holidays,[2] and picture shows, and spats,
And going to the office in the train.
Siegfried Sassoon

·         The poem is a Petrarchan sonnet. This is easy to tell as it has 14 lines, as all sonnets do, and it is broken down into two groups, the first of which has 8 lines (this is called an “octave”) while the second has 6 lines (this is called a “sestet”).
o   The octave usually sets the stage, introducing the subject matter of the poem.
o   The sestet provides the resolution.
·         This is indeed the case as the structure echoes the sense.
·         In the octet, the speaker of the poem introduces the plight of a soldier and the contradictions of their life.
o   First, soldiers are constantly confronted by the sense of their mortality on the battlefield. This is shown in the stark imagery of “death’s grey land”.
§  The poet uses implied personification: the fact that the “land” is “death’s” implies that death owns the battlefield as his domain, whereas the soldiers themselves are merely his “citizens”. They have no control over death. Instead, death  rules over them.
§  The colour “grey”, traditionally associated with despair and war, also adds a sense of bleakness to the imagery.
o   Moreover, the soldier’s experience is fundamentally an unrewarding one as suggested by the speaker’s financial metaphor where he says a soldier does not draw a “dividend” from “time’s to-morrows”.
§  In other words, the soldier does not earn interest on his investment. In the context of this poem, this means more than just a financial investment; it is also a deeply emotional and physical one for the soldier, who put their lives on the line for the sakes of battle. [language]
o   The soldier’s plight is even worse as they themselves are bitterly divided among “his feuds, and jealousies, and sorrows”
o   Finally, the soldier is in a deeply contradictory situation. While they are expected by the public to have noble, extraordinary and selfless dreams of sacrificing their lives in some “flaming, fatal climax”, their actual dreams of “firelit homes, clean beds and wives” are banal, mundane and selfish; they simply want to return to the simple pleasures of normal civilian life!
§  This is clearly pointed out by the contrasting language: the drama and tension implied by the abstract word “climax” versus the enumeration of concrete and simple desires of “homes”, “beds” and “wives”.
§  Note the alliteration of “flaming” and “fatal”, creating a sense of action that reinforces the sense of dramatic sacrifice [Sounds]
o   Also note how the sense of heroic myth and drama in the phrase “flaming, fatal climax” is echoed in the earlier mention of “great hour of destiny”. This whole premise of the heroic soldier is amplified by the rhetorical parallel structure of the whole octet where each phrase begin with “soldiers are…”, “soldiers are…”, “soldiers are…”
·         Having built up the idea of the heroic soldier facing judgement and trial in the battlefield (“great hour of destiny”, “flaming fatal climax” in the octet, the speaker quickly and brutally dismantles the myth in the sestet by turning to the gruesome and dispiriting reality of what the soldiers actually experience:  
o   Their environment is dirty and half-destroyed: “foul dug-outs, ruined trenches” [Imagery]
o   They are constantly buffeted by nature working against them (“gnawed by rats”, “lashed by rain”) à The effect is enhanced with the use of onomatopoeia, where the sounds of the word literally resemble the described action: “gnawed”, “lashed”
·         The poem ends by turning back to the dreams that soldiers have, which is now openly dismissed as unrealistic (“hopeless longing”), and all the more tragic for the fact.
o    Again, these are very mundane and quotidian things they are dreaming of, “balls and bats”, “bank-holidays”, “going to the office in the train”, things which normal people easily take for granted and dismiss as nothing special, but which soldiers now treasure because of the loss of their former civilian life and the seeming impossibility of returning to that life.
·         Conclusion: [Summary]
o   Through the vivid juxtaposition of the ordinary comforts of civilian life and the atrocious conditions soldiers endure in the battlefield, the poet shows us the tragic, brutal and hopeless nature of a soldier’s life where even these small things seem impossible to regain, and remind us of the immensity of a soldier’s sacrifice.
o   The poem also deflates the heroic myth of the soldier at war showing us that the reality is that soldiers do not want to be heroes who die for the country in a “flaming, fatal climax”; rather, they desperately want to survive in war and hope in vain to regain the idyllic and carefree life of a civilian. In this sense, the message of the poem is ultimately pacifist: war does not make heroes; it makes victims.

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[1] The leather balls and flat bats used in cricket.
[2] A ‘bank-holiday’ is the term used in Britain for a public holiday.

Sunday, 9 March 2014

H2 Geography - Lifting The Haze Off The El Nino Phenomenon

The haze is back in Singapore and rather invariably, everyone is comparing this year's situation with that of previous years. The most commonly heard haze years are 2013 and 1997. The 1997 haze was caused by the clearing of plantations in Malaysia and Indonesia using the slash-and-burn technique but it was exacerbated due to the El Nino weather condition.

El Nino is a weather phenomenon that occurs once every few years. It is due to changes in the pressure gradient over parts of the Pacific Ocean, also known as the El Nino - Southern Oscillation. Normally, in December, atmospheric pressure is higher over Tahiti, French Polynesia than Darwin, Australia. This means that there is a high pressure cell off the western coast of South America and a low pressure cell off Australia. However, when El Nino occurs, this pressure gradient is reversed, i.e. pressure over Australia is higher than in Chile, South America.

The change in pressure gradient causes a pool of warm surface water off the coast of Australia to travel across the Pacific Ocean towards South America. This warm surface water suppresses the normally cool water off the coast of South America. On the other hand, warm water off the coast of Australia is replaced by colder water. The cooler temperatures off the Australian coast prevents the formation of convection rain.
As seen in the diagram above, this results in prolonged dry weather in the western Pacific, i.e. Australia and Indonesia, while creating abnormally wet weather off the western coast of South America, i.e. Chile and Peru.

The dry conditions will thus exacerbate the haze situation in South-East Asia by prolonging and easing the burning of the trees since large swathes of land are likely to be extremely dry and parched. The lack of rain also makes it hard to put out the fires.

But that said, other atmospheric factors such as shorter-scale seasonal variations in precipitation levels and surface wind conditions are also important in influencing the severity of the haze. It is also important to note that the choking haze last June (2013) was NOT exacerbated by El Nino. In fact, 2013 was not an El Nino year. Rather, it was due to other conditions such as prevailing surface wind direction and a spike in the use of the slash-and-burn technique to clear land in Indonesia.

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Thursday, 6 March 2014

Facebook Round-Up (24/2 - 1/3)

In cased you missed our Facebook posts last week:
H1 GP - RIJCTuition News of the day: China's state-run media People's Daily just released an inciteful online game "Shoot The Devils" wherein players shoot Japanese war criminals from World War II, amid increasing tensions over territorial disputes (Senkaku / Diaoyu Islands).

Till this day, the Japanese (authorities) still downplay or deny the atrocities that their soldiers committed in World War II.

The release of the game however has elicited much disapproval from users of microblogging site Weibo.

H1 GP - RIJCTuition News of the day: Denmark has legislated a law requiring animals to be stunned before slaughtering, which supposedly prevents the Halal (and Kosher) practice of slaughtering a concious animal (by severing the carotid artery). Such a law is already present in some European countries such as Denmark, Sweden, Italy and Germany.

By the way, other examples you could use to illustrate the conflict between Islam and the West include:

-The banning of facial veils such as burqas and niqabs (France, Switzerland). Justification: counter-terrorism, security

-The banning of minarets (Switzerland). Justification: damages cultural identity, mosques shouldn't be taller than churches

-Outlawing of female genital mutilation (Sweden, Britain, France, Netherlands etc)

-Islamophobic convictions also led Anders Breivik to carry out the 2011 Norway attacks. 

Sunday, 23 February 2014

H2 Bio - Shedding Light On Photosynthesis FAQs

In this post, through answering some selected FAQs, we'll cover most of the content you need to know for the topic of Photosynthesis while  providing tips on how to answer H2 Bio questions with exam efficiency. The FAQs covered here aren't exhaustive - we've left out higher level ones requiring you to synthesize your knowledge such as comparison qns, cross-topic qns, qns involving the DCPIP indicator, cyanide etc - as the questions here are enough to cover the content. Model answers to the FAQs we've not included will be made available only for our students ;)

Whether you are the type of student who has the tendency to under or over-elaborate, the tip we have for you is to ask yourself before answering any question: which idea or concepts should you make reference to, and which keywords or phrases are associated with that concept?

Under non-cyclic photophosphorylation for example, you could make reference to how 1. Resonance energy transfer 2.excitation of electron 3. Electron transport chain (ETC) 4. NADP reduction 5. Electron from PSII fills up electron hole of PSI. 6. Chemiosmosis 7. Photolysis

Bio Essay questions can usually be divided into several sub-questions with a cap on the maximum marks on each section. For the below question, we can divide the Light reaction into non-cyclic and cyclic photophosphorylation with a reasonable cap of 4-5m and 1-2m respectively.

Outline the main stages of the Light reaction [6m]
  • In non-cylic photophosphorylation, light absorbed by pigment molecules and energy transferred to special chlorophyll a molecules in reaction centre of Photosystem II via resonance
  • Special chlorophyll a molecules excited, promote electron to higher energy level, accepted by primary electron acceptor
  • Primary electron acceptor transfer electrons down cytochrome electron carriers of electron transport chain, until NADP is reached
  • NADP combine with electron from ETC II and H+ from photolysis and reduced to NADPH
  • In a similar way, electron from PSI gets promoted and transferred down electron transport chain until it reaches and fills the electron hole in PSII
  • Energy releases from exergonic fall of electrondown ETC I coupled to formation of ATP via chemiosmosis
  • Electron hole of PSI filled by electron from photolysis; 2H20 --> 4H+ + 4e- + O2
For cyclic photophosphorylation, we make reference to the ideas that the 1. electron from PSI is recycled 2. Only ATP but not NADPH produced
  • In cyclic photophosphorylatin, electron from primary electron acceptor of PSI transferred to ETC II and is recycled to PSI
  • Chemiosmosis occurs and only ATP is produced

Explain the roles of the thylakoid membrane in photosynthesis
  • The increasingly electronegative arrangement of electron carriers facilitates the transfer of electron down the ETC 
  • Folded into granum to increase surface area, so that more photosystems can be embedded
  • Hydrophobic core impermeable to H+, hence proton gradient can be established for chemiosmosis, whereby [H+] higher in thylakoid space relative to stroma
  • Contains ATP synthase which provides hydrophilic channel for H+ to flow down concentration gradient via facilitated diffusion, becoming activated and phosphorylating ADP to ATP, which is used in Calvin Cycle (students often leave out the last part where ATP is used in the Calvin Cycle)
  • Compartmentalises enzymes involved in Calvin Cycle in stroma which provides optimal pH and environment for enzymes to function

Explain how the proton motive force is generated and maintained
  • {H+] relatively higher in thylakoid space relative to stroma, resulting in concentration gradient
  • Photolysis in thylakoid space; 2H20 --> 4H+ + 4e- + O2
  • Proton pump pumps H+ against concentration gradient from stroma to thylakoid space (FYI, the proton pump is known as the b6f complex - it is found in ETC II, and is notably involved in cyclic photophosphorylation)
  • Reduction of NADP to NADPH in stroma removes H+; NADP+ + H+ + 2e- --> NADPH; hence [H+] lower in stroma
  • Hydrophobic core of thylakoid membrane impermeable to H+, hence H+ cannot flow down concentration gradient via simple diffusion

Explain roles of ATP and NADP in photosynthesis
  • Hydrolysis of ATP provides energy to drive Calvin Cycle; energy required to rearrange atoms in G3P to regenerate RuBP for CO2 fixation to continue
  • ADP is recycled to the light reactions so that it can be phosphorylated to produce more ATP (When asked about the role of ATP, you first mention its direct role in the Calvin Cycle, then proceed to mention the role of its cousin ADP in the light reactions. Likewise, when asked about the role of NADP, you get the first mark from stating its direct role in the light reactions, and the second mark from its role in the Calvin Cycle, as seen below)
  • NADP is a hydrogen carrier (and co-enzyme) and final electron acceptor of ETC I, NADP reduction to NADPH is necessary for light reactions to proceed
  • NADPH provides H and reducing power to convert glycerate phosphate (GP) to glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate (G3P), which is used to regenerate RuBP for CO2 fixation to continue (notice that the production of G3P is always linked to the regeneration of RuBP in photosynthesis, because RuBP is necessary for CO2 fixation and hence photosynthesis to proceed.)

Outline the stages of the Calvin Cycle
  • Carbon fixation: CO2 combines with RuBP (5C) in presence of the Rubisco enzyme;
  • to give an unstable 6C compound which breaks down into 2 glycerate phosphate (GP) molecules
  • NADPH and ATP is used to reduce and convert GP to glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate (G3P)
  • For every 6 G3P produced, 5 used to regenerate RuBP for CO2 fixation to continue, 1 converted to storage molecule eg. sugars and lipids

Discuss named factors that influence the rate of photosynthesis, with reference to the term 'limiting factors'

  • Limiting factor refers to factor in shortest supply;
  • Which determines the rate of reaction
  • Rate of photosynthesis can be measured as rate of CO2 fixation
  • Light intensity affects the light-dependent stage of photosynthesis
    • At low light intensities, light intensity is the limiting factor
    • As light intensity increases, more electrons are boosted from PSI and PSII, hence more ATP and NADPH are produced and used in the Calvin Cycle, thus rate of CO2 fixation and photosynthesis increases
    • At high light intensities, rate of photosynthesis plateaus as some other factor becomes limiting (the idea that some other factor becomes limiting, or light intensity no longer is the limiting factor is one that students tend to miss, perhaps because it is too 'duh'. Note however that you only need to bring in this idea once ie. you don't have to repeat this idea for CO2 and temperature later)
  • CO2 is a major limiting factor as atmospheric [CO2] is low
    • As [CO2] increases, rate of effective collisions with RuBP and Rubisco enzyme increases, and rate of enzyme-substrate complex formation increases (Rubisco is an enzyme and it would be safer or at least there would be no harm from invoking an enzymes explanation)
    • Rate of CO2 fixation and hence photosynthesis increases
      FYI, Data response questions like this are common

  • As temperature increases, rate of effective collision between CO2, RuBP and Rubisco increases, hence rate of enzyme-substrate complex formation and CO2 fixation increases
    • Rate of photosynthesis doubles with every 10C increase in temperature until optimal temperature is reached
    • Beyond optimal temperature, Rubisco denatures and rate of photosynthesis falls;
    • As 3D conformation of active site is altered so RuBP and CO2 no longer able to bind
  • O2 competes with CO2 for active site of Rubisco (note that O2 is not by definition a 'limiting factor' and is technically not relevant in answering this particular question. Nonetheless, if the question did not restrict you to limiting factors, O2 is a factor you can bring in)
    • As [O2] increases, availability of active sites for CO2 to bind falls, hence rate of CO2 fixation and photosynthesis falls
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Saturday, 22 February 2014

H1 GP - Essay Techniques Part 3: Make Your Essay More Cogent With Logical Questions (LQs)

This post will cover Logical Questions (LQs) and how they can better help you tie up loose ends. Logical Questions are used to help you cover more ground. Logical questions are simply the questions you would have - put yourself in the shoes of the reader -  upon reading a previous statement (that is usually not one of fact). 

"Why should that be the case?", "How does it happen?", "So what?", "How do you know? / What examples do you have?" 

Ultimately, LQs help you write thorough paragraphs and thorough essays.

Today we'll see how Logical Questions can help us generate 1. Topic Sentences 2. Thorough explanations.

We get LQs from the Thesis to generate Topic Sentences. Thus let's start off with writing a Thesis first.

Eg. "Going green is a luxury only developed countries can afford." Comment.

In future posts, we'll see how to craft theses that incorporate more than one perspective to increase scope. Just take note for now that we'll approach this question from 2 angles: "is going green a luxury or a necessity" and "are developing countries able to afford the luxury of going green or not". In fact you can even approach it from a third angle (in red): "are developed countries necessarily able to afford the luxury of going green or not?" -  this last perspective is optional as two perspectives already gives you enough scope

Thesis: Although going green may arguably be lower in the hierarchy of priorities of a developing country, it does not necessarily mean that developing countries do not have the resources to invest in 'going green'. In fact, many environmentalists may argue that 'going green' is an absolutely essential financial commitment for not just developed countries, but also developing countries. Finally, one should also note that not all developed nations are necessarily wealthy and able to finance environmental pursuits.

We generate LQs by dissecting our thesis. Answering them gives us our Topic Sentences (TS).

LQ1: Why may going green arguably be lower in the hierarchy of priorities of a developing country?

Source: Time Exclusive Photographs
TS:  Many developing countries face a multitude of urgent issues which require short-term policies that satisfy the immediate needs of their people and improve their welfare, hence environmental pursuits which take tend to be of the longer-term and have lesser results in terms of improving the citizens' livelihoods is arguably of lower priority in developing countries. (You can use these Topic Sentences to practice your elaboration. Btw examples you can use for this paragraph include: Haiti earthquake, the fact that 1/3 of the world's poorest ppl reside in India etc)

LQ2:  Why might developing countries have the resources to invest in 'going green'?

TS: Some developing countries have accumulated much wealth in their coffers and may be able to pursue environmentally-friendly goals. (Think China and its development of the Tianjin eco-city, the oil countries like Dubai and its investment in Solar energy




LQ3:  Why do many environmentalists argue that 'going green' is an absolutely essential financial commitment for both developed and developing countries?

TS: However many environmentalists would argue that preventing or alleviating the effects of global warming and environmental pollution and degradation requires our utmost commitment because their effects would be catastrophic for mankind even if they only materialise in the long-term. (Have you seen Obama's recent speech on drought affecting crop yields; and also the massive fish death in Singaporean fish farms due to higher temperatures causing an algae and plankton bloom early this year? And the cost of rising sea levels?)
TS: Moreover, they also argue that there is also a need to solve our environmental problems in the immediate future before they get out of our control, thus such added urgency makes environmental pursuits a necessity rather than a luxury. (If you are well-read in this area, you may be aware of the positive feedback cycles that would accelerate global warming after a certain threshold is reached. Eg. Melting ice may release methane reservoirs, releasing more greenhouse gases into the atmosphere and trapping more heat... melting ice means less sunlight and heat is reflected into space)

LQ4:  Why aren't all developed nations  wealthy and able to finance environmental pursuits?

Unfortunately even developed nations may not have the financial resources to fund the 'luxury' of more expensive environmental pursuits owing to high public debt. (Yup, think of the US and the PIGS. And not to mention the 2008 global recession wasn't that long ago, and Fed tapering has somewhat induced another mini-recession)

So in this way, from a good thesis, LQs can help you generate many topic sentences and cover more ground.

Likewise when you ask yourself LQs within a paragraph, you'll find that your explanation becomes more thorough. Using the topic sentence:

TS: "The legalisation of marijuana may reduce crime".  

So how does the legalisation of marijuana reduce crime?
"The legalisation of marijuana may reduce crime through regulating otherwise illegal black market activities of growing and trafficking marijuana, which are often associated with crime and violence"
How are such black market activities often associated with crime and violence, and how may regulating otherwise black market activities reduce crime and violence?

"For one, marijuana is often sold by criminal groups such as the mafia. When business-related disputes occur, they illegality of marijuana means that they would not rely on law-enforcement officials to step in, but rather take matters into their own hands, which often ends in violence. "  
How do you know? 
(To answer this last LQ you just need some examples to support the above claims.) Eg. that much of the violence escalating around the Mexican border revolves around Mexican drug cartels fighting over profits...  

In conclusion, asking yourself LQs helps you generate more relevant topic sentences as well as improving the thoroughness of your paragraph in a more intuitive manner, so you can write better essays faster.

Coming up in later parts of Essay Techniques series:
Part 1: Hook Your Examiner
Part 2: Write Theses With Greater Scope
Part 4: The Overall Structure - TATATA approach vs. TTTAAA approach

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