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Arts & Letters Daily

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Report: Cause and Effect

Cause and Effect

Cause and Effect

Notes

Readers are curious or concerned about causes and effects. They want to know about causes so that undesirable effects can be controlled. At other times, they want to know the desirable effects so that they can be made to happen again. Readers have less difficulty understanding causes and effects when they are dealt with separately.

The cause of a problem brings about change or makes something happen. The effect is the consequence or result of something that has occurred. It is important to avoid an infinite regress in order to establish the ultimate cause.  A good rule of thumb is to stick to practical or functional causes.  Usually, it is easier to understand cause and effect when they are dealt with separately.

Within the general categories of “causes” and “effects” there are the following sub-categories.

Causes

  • single cause (A single car enters an intersection on a red light and hits another car. The car that entered the intersection on a red light is the cause of the accident)
  • multiple unrelated causes (late arrival in class due to heavy snowfall and sleeping in. Heavy snowfall and sleeping in  are two causes that have nothing to do with each other and therefore are not related)
  • multiple related causes  (late arrival at work due to heavy snowfall and slow traffic. Heavy snowfall and slow traffic are related in that a heavy snowfall can result in slow traffic.)

Sample

Sample for ’cause’

Red River Valley Snowfall

In the winter of 1993-94, Fargo, another city in the Red River Valley, experienced a record snowfall of 89.1 inches. Everyone in the Red River Valley was bracing for a disastrous flood in spring. But, it never materialized. Why? Warm days and cold nights in spring slowed down the melt rate. Snow melted during the day, but much of it froze at night. Hence, the melt rate was slowed down sufficiently to allow the water to run off instead of accumulating at a rapid rate. The weather conditions in spring saved Fargo from a disastrous flood.

Template for ’causes’

Causes

  • Single cause
  • Multiple unrelated causes
  • Multiple related causes

– record snowfall, slow melt rate due to warm days followed by cold nights

Sample

Sample for ‘effect’

Minor Flooding

Does a record snowfall guarantee a spring flood in the Red River Valley? For example, in the winter of 1996-97, Grand Forks received a record snowfall of 98.6 inches when, on average, it receives 35-40 inches a season. Not necessarily. Much depends on the pattern of melting. A succession of warm days but freezing nights reduces the chance of accumulating large amounts of water quickly. The re-freezing at night slows down the melting and the accumulation of water. For example, in 1993-94, Fargo which is another city in the Red River had a record snowfall of 89.1 inches. Warm days and cold nights in spring slowed down the melt rate so that the Valley experienced minor to moderate flooding.

Template for effects

  • Single effects

– Hence, the melt rate was slowed down sufficiently to allow the water to run off instead of accumulating at a rapid rate.

  • Multiple unrelated effect
  • Multiple related effects

Assignment

Assignment: Cause and Effect

Read the following essay and identify the cause presented in the essay.

Time is Running Out

While scientists are debating whether the people of the world should be concerned about global warming, Canadians need to act. This is not said to belittle the debate among scientists; their research provides vital information. However, since many scientists claim that the global warming trend is likely to have negative consequences, the people of Canada should plan for the future with this information in mind.

Why the people of Canada? Many scientists agree that if the atmosphere continues to get warmer, many regions will experience negative effects. True, some regions may enjoy some benefits. For example, the farmers on the prairies might enjoy a longer growing season.

But, most Canadians would suffer negative consequences. The Maritimes and the West Coast would experience coastal flooding; arid regions of southern Alberta would turn into deserts; and the permafrost in the Yukon would decay more and more. Skiers would have fewer places to ski in British Columbia, Ontario and Quebec because of a shortage of snow. The fish migration patterns along the eastern shoreline might change so much that the prime fishing areas may disappear. All these changes together would have a negative impact on the lifestyle of most Canadians.

Of course, more research is needed to determine the impact of global warming. But that is not good enough for responsible Canadians. We need to take steps immediately to slow down the global warming trend. Canadians should object more strongly to clear cut logging in British Columbia. We must change from being one of the highest users in the world of fossil fuels to one of the lowest.

This would be a promising start to save Canada, as we know it. Not to respond to the threat of global warming would be like ignoring a tornado warning. Let’s not wait till devastation is upon us.

Template for effects

  • Single effects

____________________________________________________________________

  • Multiple unrelated effects

____________________________________________________________________

  • Multiple related effects
  • ____________________________________________________________________

Assignment

Writing Assignment: Cause and effect

Write a paragraph in which you present the ‘causes’ on a topic of your choice. Submit it to your instructor or tutor for feedback on grammar and the ‘cause’ you have presented. Then edit your paragraph based on the feedback you received.

Write a paragraph in which you present the ‘effects’ on a topic of your choice. Submit it to your instructor or tutor for feedback on grammar and the ‘effect’ you have presented. Then edit your paragraph based on the feedback you received.

Complete the templates for  ‘Cause’ and   ‘Effect’ on your paragraphs.

Template for Causes

  • Single cause

____________________________________________________________________

  • Multiple unrelated causes

____________________________________________________________________

  • Multiple related causes

____________________________________________________________________

OR

Template for Effects

  • Single effects

____________________________________________________________________

  • Multiple unrelated effects

____________________________________________________________________

  • Multiple related effects

____________________________________________________________________

Answer Key

Cause and Effect – Time is Running Out

Possible causes

  • Single cause

many scientists claim that the global warming trend

  • Multiple un-related causes
  • Multiple related causes

Possible effects

  • Single effect?
  • Multiple un-related effects
  • Multiple related effects

But, most Canadians would suffer negative consequences. The Maritimes and the West Coast would experience coastal flooding; arid regions of southern Alberta would turn into deserts; and the permafrost in the Yukon would decay more and more. Skiers would have fewer places to ski in British Columbia, Ontario and Quebec because of a shortage of snow. The fish migration patterns along the eastern shoreline might change so much that the prime fishing areas may disappear. All these changes together would have a negative impact on the lifestyle of most Canadians.