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1.4.4 O is for Objectivity

One of the characteristics of ‘good’ information is that it should be balanced and present both sides of an argument or issue. This way the reader is left to weigh up the evidence and make a decision. In reality, we recognise that no information is truly objective.

This means that the onus is on you, the reader, to develop a critical awareness of the positions represented in what you read, and to take account of this when you interpret the information. In some cases, authors may be
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5 Conclusion – new ways of looking at the world

There is a variety of new approaches or terms that are interlinked, and have been prominent throughout this book. All of them have played a part in this book's journey through the scientific, political, philosophical and social implications of climate change.

Governance of climate change is about: decision making under uncertainty; understanding and representing vulnerability even when vulnerabilities are difficult to assess or unknowable; and making every aspect of human
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4.4 Signing everyone up to sustainability

The proposers of step-by-step progress towards sustainability would include in their plans many of the ideas proposed in the previous two subsections. However, what distinguishes this group is that they stand in the middle of the scale between faith in unfettered business voluntarism and a conviction that radical transformations are required. Their incrementalism is reflected in the kinds of pragmatic solutions they propose; their radicalism shows in the way they think about new roles and pro
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3.2.2 Good green governance in five easy steps

It would be a serious error to imagine that ‘government’ has evaporated: it still shapes many aspects of our lives from beginning to end (welfare, taxation, transport and, of course, the recording of births and deaths). Governments are the central negotiators of environmental-change policies at international level, and of their implementation at national and local level. Nevertheless, for many areas of life, governance is undeniably a better description both of new processes that are alre
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Learning outcomes

By the end of this unit you will:

  • Have gained an understanding of the four dimensions of globalisation in relation to climate change;

  • Be able to distinguish between the three approaches to achieve sustainability;

  • Know the difference between ‘government’ and ‘governance’;

  • Identify what makes ecological citizenship distinctive;

  • Understand how the medium of the web can aid transitions to sustainability.


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3.2 The past temperature of the planet

Measuring the concentration of lead in the ice is called a direct measurement: the ice sample is melted and the water produced contains a very small but readily measured quantity of lead dust. A very accurate set of scales would be needed to measure it, but it is a directly measured quantity. There are also many indirect measurements that can be made using proxy data. The concept for using proxies is both simple and brilliant: one measured property allows inference about other states o
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6.3 The role of active citizens and communities

Few people agree that individuals should take the main responsibility for tackling environmental issues. For example, in a 2007 poll of over 2000 UK citizens, 70% agreed that the government should take a lead in combating climate change, even if it means using the law to change people's behaviour. However, over 60% disagreed that there was nothing they could do to avert climate change and over half agreed that they would do more if others did more too, although 40% thought that recycling was
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6.2 The role of individuals and households

You've been considering how to reduce your own carbon footprint to help tackle the worst effects of climate and other environmental changes. To that extent, ‘I’ as an individual consumer has a role to play.

But unless you live alone, you share your household with other people, a group that could be called ‘we’. Everyone in the household may have similar views on living lightly. But, even within a household, there may be different views and priorities about what, if anything, sho
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5.3 Moving towards a sustainable carbon footprint

So far, you've been considering reductions in average individual or household carbon footprints by 20% to 30% or more.

But it is becoming increasingly clear that this will not be enough. As I mentioned in Section 4, developed countries, like Britain, Germany and America, will have to reduce their CO2e emissions by 60% to 80% or more by 2050 to prevent climate change running out of control, while at the same time allowing the growing populations of Africa, India and China to r
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5.1 Actions for lighter living

Nobody made a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could only do little.

(Edmund Burke, 1729–1797)

If you want to consider how to further lighten your carbon footprint, you may need more detailed information on the effect of technical and behavioural actions not covered by the carbon calculator, or included only as a part of other actions.

It's important to understand whic
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2.2.3 The effect of people and places

The footprints in the above Carbon Trust and National Statistics studies are for an average UK citizen. But footprints vary for different individuals and households. For example, another study showed that, on average, people aged 50 to 64 have heavier footprints than all other UK age groups, mainly due to their high spending on car and air travel, eating and drinking, and medical and financial services (Haq et al., 2007, p. 7).

The National Statistics study showed that the UK regions wi
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2.5.1 Physical and weather-related indicators

The indicators collected in Table 4 have been observed to change over large regions of the Earth during the 20th century. According to the TAR, there is now a good level of confidence that what is being recorded is the result of long-term change rather than short-term natural fluctuations. As we noted earlier (Section 2.2.2), the most recent period of warming has been almost global in extent, but particularly marked at high latitudes. So are the changes in Table 4 consistent with rising tempe
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2.2.2 Temperature changes over the past millennium

One of the most striking images in the IPCC TAR is reproduced (in adapted form) in Figure 24. Together, these two temperature records tell a compelling story, crystallised in our earlier quotes from the SPM. So let's just pause to take a closer look at each of them.

Figure 24

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Introduction

This unit explores the topic of climate change and global warming. We will begin by exploring how the Earth’s global mean surface temperature is determined through a global “balancing act” of the rate of energy that comes from the Sun and the rate at which the planet returns that energy into space. We will also discuss the natural greenhouse effect, and how this contributes to a balanced global climate. We will then go on to consider the human impact on the atmosphere, including the imp
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1.3 Framing nature matters as systems

Much of what is considered Nature is often codified as ‘systems’ – natural systems, ecosystems, ecological systems and/or environmental systems. Systems thinking is an active cognitive endeavour to conceptually frame reality. A key feature of framing Nature in terms of systems is the appreciation given to the multiple interrelationships and interdependencies that exist in the natural world.

The Thing – that is, the repercussions of the eighteenth-century European industri
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1.3.7 Corporate connections continued

One issue that might be added by a workers' organisation or trade union, for instance, might be that of freedom of association and the right of workers to organise. Another might be the right to collective bargaining. In fact, the coverage of the codes of conduct vary considerably depending on who instigated the code and the parties involved (Pearson and Seyfang, 2001). Most codes of conduct, it seems, are top-down affairs, drawn up by the companies involved or by trade associations. Some hav
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1.2.3 Activity 2

Before you read on, I would like you to dwell for just a moment on the significance of this shift from direct investment by Western firms to the establishment of subcontracting ties with overseas partners. Aside from outside firms being able to p
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1.1.2 Activity 1

You have already glanced at Figure 1 and some of the worki
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6.6.1 The Royal Commission on environmental pollution scenarios

The UK's Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution produced (RCEP) its 22nd report Energy: the Changing Climate in June 2000. The Commission examined what changes would be needed in Britain's energy systems if, as suggested by the various reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC, 2001), it should prove necessary to reduce the country's emissions of greenhouse gases by about 60 per cent by 2050.

The Commission investigated the various possibilities very tho
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3.1 Introduction

So what are the principal energy systems used by humanity at present, and how sustainable are they?

Until quite recently, human energy requirements were modest and our supplies came either from harnessing natural processes such as the growth of plants, which provided wood for heating and food to energise human or animal muscles, or from the power of water and wind, used to drive simple machinery.


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