1.6 The human impact on the atmosphere: the coming of the industrial age

There is no doubt that CO2 is accumulating in the atmosphere. The record from Mauna Loa charts a continuing rise in CO2 concentration since measurements began in 1958, when the level was 315 ppm; the value had reached about 370 ppm by the end of the 20th century, and hit more than 378 ppm in 2004. Important as changes in atmospheric CO2 undoubtedly are (see below), we need to be aware that this is not the whole story of human-induced greenhouse forcing. In par
Author(s): The Open University

License information
Related content

Except for third party materials and/or otherwise stated (see terms and conditions) the content in OpenLearn is released for use under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-Share

Introduction

Sweatshops and the exploitation of workers are often linked to the globalised production of ‘big brand’ labels. This unit examines how campaigners have successfully closed the distance between the brands and the sweatshops, while others argue that such production ‘kick starts’ economies into growth benefiting whole communities.

This unit is an adapted extract from the Open University course Author(s): The Open University

5.2.1 Supply-side measures

On the supply side of our energy systems, there is a very large potential for improving the efficiency of electricity generation by introducing new technologies that are more efficient than older power plant. The efficiency of a power plant is the percentage of the energy content of the fuel input that is converted into electricity output over a given time period. Since the early days of electricity production, power plant efficiency has been improving steadily. The most advanced form
Author(s): The Open University

License information
Related content

Except for third party materials and/or otherwise stated (see terms and conditions) the content in OpenLearn is released for use under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-Share

5.1 Energy services

Except in the form of food, no one needs or wants energy as such. That is to say, no one wants to eat coal or uranium, drink oil, breathe natural gas or be directly connected to an electricity supply. What people want is energy services – those services which energy uniquely can provide. Principally, these are: heat, for warming rooms, for washing and for processing materials; lighting, both interior and exterior; motive power, for a myriad of uses from pumping fluids to lifti
Author(s): The Open University

License information
Related content

Except for third party materials and/or otherwise stated (see terms and conditions) the content in OpenLearn is released for use under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-Share

Learning outcomes

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

  • describe environmental matters regarding obligation and entitlements from a ‘caring’ perspective;

  • appreciate the significance of environmental consequentialist ethics in conversations around developing care;

  • identify and compare formal and less formal expressions of environmental responsibility;

  • understand ‘accountability’ in the context of environmental issues;

  • ide
    Author(s): The Open University

    License information
    Related content

    Except for third party materials and/or otherwise stated (see terms and conditions) the content in OpenLearn is released for use under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-Share

3.2.3 Fighting on too many fronts

Although I have dwelt on the agreements relating to agriculture, textiles, and intellectual property, there are some two dozen others, each involving intricate legal and technical details. These include agreements on:

  • Sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) measures: these are standards applied to imported agricultural products so as to protect plants, animals and humans in the importing country. However, these standards are often arbitrarily used to restric
    Author(s): The Open University

    License information
    Related content

    Except for third party materials and/or otherwise stated (see terms and conditions) the content in OpenLearn is released for use under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-Share

2.1 Learning from video footage

You might think that learning from audio-visual sources is very different from learning from written sources yet, somewhat surprisingly, it is much the same. This section of the unit will help you to think about how you can turn the very familiar, but usually passive, process of watching a video into the active process of learning. Watching the video will involve the skills of engaging with the material and making sense of it for yourself, just as if it were written materials. The advantage o
Author(s): The Open University

License information
Related content

Except for third party materials and/or otherwise stated (see terms and conditions) the content in OpenLearn is released for use under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-Share

References

Alexander, G. (2002) eGaia: Growing a Peaceful, Sustainable Earth through Communications, Florida, Lighthouse Books.
Allinson, C.W. and Hayes, J. (1996) ‘The cognitive style index: a measure of intuition-analysis for organizational research’, Journal of Management Studies, Vol. 33, No. 1, p. 122.
Asch, S.E. (1963) ‘Effects of group pressure up on the modification
Author(s): The Open University

License information
Related content

Except for third party materials and/or otherwise stated (see terms and conditions) the content in OpenLearn is released for use under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-Share

2.4 Dynamic equilibrium

Homeostasis is the term used to describe the dynamic equilibrium that maintains living systems. Homeostasis could be described as the perfect blend of positive and negative feedback cycles in order to maintain living systems.

Homeostasis occurs at all levels of organisation within living systems. Individual cells are constantly pumping chemicals across their membranes in order to maintain the appropriate chemical composition for crucial functions such as metabolism and DNA repair
Author(s): The Open University

License information
Related content

Except for third party materials and/or otherwise stated (see terms and conditions) the content in OpenLearn is released for use under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-Share

Learning outcomes

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

  • use the sign graph diagramming technique to develop and communicate a systemic understanding of complex situations;

  • identify feedback relationships as fundamental controllers within systems and as points of intervention to enact change.


Author(s): The Open University

License information
Related content

Except for third party materials and/or otherwise stated (see terms and conditions) the content in OpenLearn is released for use under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-Share

Acknowledgements

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

Except for third party materials and otherwise stated (see terms and conditions), this content is made available under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Licence

Author(s): The Open University

License information
Related content

Except for third party materials and/or otherwise stated (see terms and conditions) the content in OpenLearn is released for use under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-Share

2.4 Limits to growth

In April 1968 a group of thirty people from ten countries gathered in Rome. From this meeting grew the ‘Club of Rome’, a loose association of people of twenty-five nationalities all united by their belief that mankind faced major problems which were of such complexity that traditional institutions and policies were not capable of dealing with them. They commissioned a study which was eventually published in 1972 entitled The Limits to Growth (Meadows et al., 1972). This initiative
Author(s): The Open University

License information
Related content

Except for third party materials and/or otherwise stated (see terms and conditions) the content in OpenLearn is released for use under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-Share

1.3 Activities

Activity 2A sets the scene by focusing on the ‘big picture’ where you will be asked to choose between four alternative visions of the future. This activity radically shifts the scale of investigation from the personal to the global. However, as with all systems, the emergent behaviour of societ
Author(s): The Open University

License information
Related content

Except for third party materials and/or otherwise stated (see terms and conditions) the content in OpenLearn is released for use under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-Share

1.1 Aim

This study unit introduces you to the proposition that our mental models change through learning, and
Author(s): The Open University

License information
Related content

Except for third party materials and/or otherwise stated (see terms and conditions) the content in OpenLearn is released for use under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-Share

5.1 Sudden changes

The third category of thermal effects identified in Section 2 are those associated with sudden changes. Here are some technically important examples where things change suddenly at a particular temperature:

  • Pure water boils at 100 °C (at atmospheric pressure).<
    Author(s): The Open University

    License information
    Related content

    Except for third party materials and/or otherwise stated (see terms and conditions) the content in OpenLearn is released for use under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-Share

4.2.3 The significance of the distribution of energies

Near room temperature (300 K), the average bundle of thermal energy associated with a particle is 0.026 eV (look back at Box 2 Temperature and energy). This is not going to do much damage to something stuck together with bonds that have an energy of a few eV – just as the average wage earne
Author(s): The Open University

License information
Related content

Except for third party materials and/or otherwise stated (see terms and conditions) the content in OpenLearn is released for use under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-Share

4.2.1 Quantifying thermal energy

Thermal energy is associated with random motion – that is, in effect, a definition. Because it is random, it only makes sense to talk about it in connection with a large population of atoms. I began with fifty million million million silicon atoms – that should be enough. If whatever motion they have is random, some may have lots of it, others very little. With such a large population it is reasonable to try to think about an average motion or, better, to define an average energy of the p
Author(s): The Open University

License information
Related content

Except for third party materials and/or otherwise stated (see terms and conditions) the content in OpenLearn is released for use under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-Share

2.4 Summary of Section 2

  • Thermometers sense temperature. They are transducers providing observable and quantifiable signals in variables other than temperature. Thermometers are calibrated to give numbers in accord with an internationally agreed scale. Various attributes influence the selection of an instrument for a task.

  • Temperature can determine the rate at which certain physical and chemical changes proceed, and whether some changes can occur at all.

  • <
    Author(s): The Open University

    License information
    Related content

    Except for third party materials and/or otherwise stated (see terms and conditions) the content in OpenLearn is released for use under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-Share

1 Temperature – problem or solution?

‘Have you taken the temperature effects into account?’ (Figure 1) is nearly always a valid question in any discussion about a proposed engineering solution. Everything has a temperature, and everything behaves differently at different temperatures. It therefore deserves its own special plac
Author(s): The Open University

License information
Related content

Except for third party materials and/or otherwise stated (see terms and conditions) the content in OpenLearn is released for use under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-Share

5.8 Plagiarism

Referencing is not only useful as a way of sharing information, but also as a means of ensuring that due credit is given to other people’s work. In the electronic information age, it is easy to copy and paste from journal articles and web pages into your own work. But if you do use someone else’s work, you should acknowledge the source by giving a correct reference.

Taking someone's work and not indicating where you took it from is termed plagiarism and is regarded as an infringemen
Author(s): The Open University

License information
Related content

Except for third party materials and/or otherwise stated (see terms and conditions) the content in OpenLearn is released for use under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-Share