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3.4 Bioenergy

Not all fuel sources are, of course, of fossil or nuclear origin. From prehistoric times, human beings have harnessed the power of fire by burning wood to create warmth and light and to cook food.

Wood is created by photosynthesis in the leaves of plants. Photosynthesis is a process powered by solar energy in which atmospheric carbon dioxide and water are converted into carbohydrates (compounds of carbon, oxygen and hydrogen) in the plant's leaves and stems. These, in the form of wood o
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Acknowledgements

Grateful acknowledgement is made to the following sources for permission to reproduce material in this unit:

Text

Chapter 9: Andrew Light, ‘Contemporary Environmental Ethics from Meta-ethics to Public Philosophy’, in Metaphilosophy, 33(4), 2002, 426-49. Reproduced by permission of the author

Chapter 10: Eric Higgs, ‘The Two-Culture Problem: Ecological Restoration and the Integration of Knowled
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2.3.1 The risk society

The shift from an anthropocentric concern around issues of human poverty in industrial society towards a more ecocentric concern around environmental issues in the ‘risk society’ has been expressed by the German sociologist Ulrich Beck. His 1992 book Risk Society: Towards a New Modernity suggests a shift from the safety state of industrialised society, where conflicts were manifest in struggles amongst socio-economic groups, to a society where conflicts arise from issues of uncerta
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2.2.3 Ecological economics

Ecological economics, which formally came to prominence in the mid-1980s, represents a departure from reliance on the use of mainstream economic modelling. Instead, it branches out to actively engage with and incorporate the ethical, social and behavioural dimensions of environmental issues. In short, ecological economics attempts to provide an interdisciplinary approach to environmental issues, whereas environmental economics maintains the primacy of economic modelling.

Mark Sag
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2.3 Using conversation to construct environmental responsibility

If conversation is a creative exercise, in what sense might this be applied to the concept of responsibility around climate change? As David Cooper implies (Box 3), global ideas about the environment, such as climate change, are necessarily abstract and therefore lack the meaning and significance required to nurture appropriate respon
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2.2 Informal and formal conversations

The process of conversation is, of course, interactive. It requires listening (Figure 5) and feeding back. In human conversations the interactive process is largely enabled through a shared language. In conversing with nature the challenge is in formulating the right ‘language’, in terms of both ‘listening’ and ‘feeding back
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Introduction

This unit explores different understandings of nature and environment and the significance these may have for developing responsibility. The problems of connecting human and non-human nature are presented here as being a challenge peculiar to the concerns of environmental responsibility. They provide the impetus for exploring the idea of ‘conversation’ as a metaphor for what matters in environmental responsibility. Using a reading by Stephen Talbott as a foundation, the conversation me
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Acknowledgements

Author

This unit was prepared by Tom Power with guidance from Dr Arlene Hunter.

Tom Power is a lecturer in science education at The Open University. His research interests include teacher education in the global south (www.open.ac.uk/deep) and the CASE intervention. He has been a teacher and an advisory teacher in East Sussex and a specialist adviser to the TTA teacher research panel.

Dr Arlëne Hunter, Staff Tutor in Science in Ireland
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4 Further reading

For information on changes to flora, click on Science magazine.

For changes to fauna, and economic effects, go to Information Sheet 4, or for the paper quoted at the top of the screen, Information Sheet 1, both at Climatic Research Unit.

Click on 'View document' to open the data-smoothing information

3 Recorded temperatures

Analyses of over 400 proxy climate series (from trees, corals, ice cores and historical records) show that the 1990s was the warmest decade of the millennium and the 20th century the warmest century. The warmest year of the millennium was 1998, and the coldest was probably 1601. (Climatic Research Unit, 2003)

Throughout historical times, fluctuations in the Earth's mean temperature have been recorded. During the seventeenth century, the Thames periodically froze over during winter and m
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2 A 4.6 billion-year history

Climate change is a natural process of warming and cooling that has occurred all through the Earth's history. Throughout geological time there have been ‘hot-house’ periods and ice ages. In order to understand the current situation, it is necessary to have some sense of context and perspective, from historical and geological time-scales. The document below shows a chart showing a generalised temperature history of the Earth.

Click on 'View document' to see the chart

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1 Natural climate change?

The chart below shows a record of the global mean surface temperature of the Earth compiled for the past 140 years. Clearly there is an upward trend, but what does a chart like this really show?

Learning outcomes

The learning outcomes for this unit are to:

  • Develop an understanding of the current evidence for global warming.

  • Model and apply the techniques of ‘measuring’ the Earth's temperature.

  • Understand the current warming in relation to climate changes throughout the Earth's history.

  • Explain factors forcing climate change, and the extent of anthropogenic influence.

  • Assess the ‘best predictions’ of current climate model
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Introduction

This unit provides an introduction to global warming. We will be considering the history of global warming by looking at the pattern of ice ages and analysis of recorded temperatures. We will aim to gather meaningful information from this data. We will briefly assess the impact and influence of humans on global warming and, finally, we will examine climate models and how to predict future changes.


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Tables

Table 4 Hammer, W. (1981), ‘Occupational Safety Management and Engineering’,
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References

Anon. (2003) ‘Spy chief warns food industry over terrorism’, Environmental Health News, 24 October 2003, p. 2.
Cabinet Office (2003) Dealing with Disaster, revised 3rd edn, Civil Contingencies Secretariat.
Commercial Union Risk Management Ltd (1992) ‘Crisis: A timetable for recovery’.
Dodswell, B. (2000)
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6 Conclusion

Perhaps it is a truism to say that all life is full of risk. We encounter many uncalculated outcomes, some beneficial and others adverse. It can be difficult to know which adverse events will prove permanently disadvantageous, since some may lead to innovation and opportunities for the future. Businesses, especially in the financial context, often consider risk in terms of opportunities for gain. Risk in our context is a way of describing the probability and consequences of harm, or at worst
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5.5 Emergency planning as an organisational management function

If emergency services' EPOs plan to respond to other people's emergencies, people managing a business activity with major incident potential have a different perspective. They have to respond to emergencies within their own organisation. In effect, if an incident occurs, the organisation is itself in a crisis, with functionality impaired. All of this comes into the corporate governance area and the implications of internal control. This requires companies to ensure that they have a sound syst
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4.2.1 Comparing the management systems

One approach to BS 8800 follows the ISO 14001 model, and the ISO 14001 system itself was closely modelled on the previous ISO 9000, with the 2000 revision of ISO 9000 following ISO 14001 principles. As a result, you may imagine that there are similarities between the standards. Many of the elements are similar, and some are nearly identical. Management systems share common elements, including developing and documenting procedures, training, record keeping, auditing, and corrective action. Fig
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4.1.1 A hierarchy of causes

SAQ 3

Consider the difference between the relative safety of car and air travel in relation to the following points.

  • A car travels on the ground and not at 10 000 m in the air. Compare the effects
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