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1.1.2 Key resources

When you need to find information in Arts or History, how confident are you that you know the best places to search (e.g. search engines, subject gateways, online databases etc.) to find the information you need?

  • 5 – Very confident

  • 4 – Confident

  • 3 – Fairly confident

  • 2 – Not very confident

  • 1 – Not confident at all

How familiar are you with journal articl
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6 Summary

  1. It is essential that societies seek ways of becoming environmentally sustainable and adaptable to unknowable environmental changes, particularly in the climate. This must happen in the context of globalisation. The concept of sustainability is coming to prominence at a time when established structures of government are being questioned and new ways of thinking about governance are being explored.

  2. Globalisation has several dimensions that are r
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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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4.4.1 Partnerships for sustainable consumption

Moderate NGOs, progressive businesses and government all have a stake in seeing roundtable partnerships come up with practical steps that can bring sustainability closer. One area that has attracted the attention of all these players is consumption. Directing or limiting consumption is politically difficult for even the NGOs to promote. Similarly, ‘voluntary simplicity’ of the sort lived at Findhorn eco-village (Author(s): The Open University

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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4.3 Green from the grassroots up

People who demand a radical break with the business-dominated path of economic globalisation believe that the claims of the mainstream business community are at best hopelessly inadequate, and at worst deceitful. However, they know they have to come up with some answers of their own. This section outlines ideas that seek to underpin a transition to green economies owned and run at grassroots level. Sounds ambitious? Author(s): The Open University

3.2 Governance – filling the hole where government used to be

Sustainable development emerged as a prominent environmental policy discourse at a time of deep introspection in policy communities. In the 1970s and early 1980s it was widely felt that something was badly wrong with the political process. Commentators from both left and right argued that nation states were losing the authority to govern and the capacity to act effectively. Expressions such as ‘ungovernability’, ‘legitimation crisis’ and ‘crisis of the welfare state’ were coined t
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3.1 Who will make the decisions?

Where will the decisions be made that will result in meaningful action on climate change, and who will make them stick? Following climate change politics in the media can give the impression that most of the action on climate change is going on between national decision makers in international forums. It is important to keep in mind that these forums have resulted from persistent pressure from a combination of grassroots environmental activists and a global network of science and policy exper
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2.2 Vibrant civil societies and a networked globe

One thing is common to all three attempts to find a route to a sustainable economy and society: in different ways they all assume that people will get actively involved in making human societies more sustainable. But this transformation will not take place through the corporate world's promises, by local protectionism, a return to ‘strong states’ or the publication of numerous indicators. Any of the three positions outlined above requires interactions and feedbacks created by a vibrant
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1.1 What is 'globalisation'?

Activity 1 What does ‘globalisation’ mean to you?

Note down on paper or in your learning journal  your first tho
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Introduction

Human societies have to take urgent action to end their dependence on fossil fuels. They also have to prepare to adapt to the uncertainties inherent in global environmental changes, particularly climatic ones. We have to alter the whole path of our development and decision making in order to make our societies both environmentally adaptable and sustainable. This unit takes on the task of trying to chart some of the ways in which this might come about.

The context for these changes by g
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Summary

In this part I have presented evidence showing that even apparently remote regions of our planet are intimately connected through physical processes. For example, once an organic POP is transported to the poles, then biological processes can take over and through bioaccumulation perhaps cause harm. But this physical connection has allowed the ice to preserve unique proxy records of the past climate of our planet. Directly measuring the gases trapped in the ice has enabled histories of past at
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5 The contemporary Arctic climate

There is a remarkable seasonality in the Arctic climate. For example, the flow in some of the great rivers of Russia and North America that empty into the Arctic Ocean almost stops in winter (Figure 21). During May, ice in the rivers starts to break and in June there is a rapid flood of fresh water followed by a
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4 The end of the last ice age: the Holocene

I have already noted that the great ice sheets took about 100,000 years to form and only about 10,000 years to decay. So what happened at the end of the last ice age? Figure 15 shows the EPICA ice core CO2 concentration and air temperature for the most recent 20 000 years, which is within the last ice
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3.3 The Keeling curve

The Keeling curve is the plot showing the trend in rising atmospheric CO2 concentrations since 1958 recorded at Mauna Loa in Hawaii. The story of atmospheric CO2 in the last 50 years is a relentless rise derived from human use of hydrocarbons and, as I write this in 2008, the annual mean concentration is 383 parts per million (ppm). When Keeling first collected his CO2 data he travelled around making the measurements at widely spaced locations – but he saw t
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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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3.1 Greenland's snowfall

Greenland snowfall differs depending on whether it falls in summer (when snow is comparatively warm and moist) or winter (when snow is cold and dry). These differences mean that as the snow is turned to ice, annual layers are formed that are in many ways similar to tree rings: thick annual layers mean high snowfall and thin annual layers low snowfall. The accumulation of snowfall on the summit of Greenland – and most importantly what is trapped within the crystals as it turns to ice – can
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2 The atmospheric and ocean flows

We now know that PBDEs end up in the Arctic through their physical transport by the winds, the ocean and the rivers of the world. All three mechanisms are important, but the most rapid carrier is the wind. The basic principle of global atmospheric circulation is simple: warm air rises and cold air sinks. The warming effect of the Sun is much greater at the equator than at higher latitudes and so the air is much warmer and it rises. At high latitudes the air cools and it sinks. This drives a h
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1 A climate change icon

The polar bear has become an international climate change icon. But how much is known about this bear, its habitat and life? This unit will talk about the role of language, but by way of introduction how about the name of this bear? To me it is the polar bear; to a German it is an Eisbär (ice bear) and to a French person it is an ours blanc (white bear). In these three examples the bear is referred to as polar, white, or an ice bear – eminently sensible. The Latin name for th
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Learning outcomes

By the end of this unit you should be able to:

  • appreciate how chemical processes in the rest of the world affect the Arctic environment and the species inhabiting it;

  • recognise the physical processes that determine atmosphere and oceanic flows in the Arctic;

  • appreciate the scientific research process and the use of scientific evidence;

  • use quantitative scientific evidence to examine the link between atmospheric carbon dioxide levels a
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