Environmental Ethics
To what extent does Man have a right to exploit nature in order to live? Do animals have rights? Should we modify the genes of crops if it allows us to increase production, and even alleviate poverty? This album explores the arguments for and against genetically-modified crops, hearing the views of a dairy farmer competing in the global market, a GM scientist, an activist who believes GM crops are unsustainable, and an organic cultivator. The various views reveal how the debate is made complex b
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Understanding the environment: Learning and communication
There is increasing recognition that the reductionist mindset that is currently dominating society, rooted in unlimited economic growth unperceptive to its social and environmental impact, cannot resolve the converging environmental, social and economic crises we now face. The primary aim of this free course, Understanding the environment: Learning and communication, is to encourage the shift away from reductionist and human centred thinking towards a holistic and ecological worldview.
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Introduction

This unit explores conceptual tools for assisting our thinking and deliberation on what matters. In Section 1, a reading by Ronald Moore introduces the notion of 'framing' nature, raising the perceived paradox of inevitably devaluing an aesthetically pleasing unframed entity. Three further readings, two from Fritjof Capra and one from Werner Ulrick (all of which are quite short and markedly reduced from their original courses), provide an understanding of systems thinking for explicitly frami
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Biofuels
This free course, Biofuels, investigates what is meant by a biofuel and covers the advantages of using biofuels compared with fossil fuels. The different types of biofuel are explored, with particular emphasis on transport biofuels. Finally, the issue of whether biofuels are the complete answer to our future energy needs is considered. First published on Mon, 21 Mar 2016 as
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Surface water
Water is arguably the most important physical resource as it is the one that is essential to human survival. Understanding the global water cycle and how we use water is essential to planning a sustainable source of water for the future. In the UK there are areas where water supplies are limited, as shown by recent droughts. Globally, there are many areas that do not have enough water to support the current population adequately. Decisions will have to be made on the best way to use water in a w
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Energy resources: Tidal energy
The rise and fall of ocean tides result from the combined gravitational pull on water by the Moon and, to a lesser extent, the Sun, which exerts a force on water directed towards the two astronomical bodies. These gravitational effects combine with centrifugal forces that result from the Earth and the Moon orbiting each other. All of which makes tidal change a complex process. Energy resources: Tidal energy, is a free course that considers the power of the ocean tides as a potential source of us
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Understanding the environment: A systems approach
There is increasing recognition that the reductionist mindset that is currently dominating society, rooted in unlimited economic growth unperceptive to its social and environmental impact, cannot resolve the converging environmental, social and economic crises we now face. Understanding the environment: A systems approach, is a free course whose primary aim is to encourage the shift away from reductionist and human centred thinking towards a holistic and ecological worldview. It promotes the shi
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Understanding the environment: Thinking styles and models
There is increasing recognition that the reductionist mindset that is currently dominating society, rooted in unlimited economic growth unperceptive to its social and environmental impact, cannot resolve the converging environmental, social and economic crises we now face. The primary aim of this freee course, Understanding the environment: Thinking styles and models, is to encourage the shift away from reductionist and human centred thinking towards a holistic and ecological worldview.
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Sustainable Scotland
Sustainable Scotland is a free course that will appeal to anyone with an interest in a sustainable future in the context of contemporary Scottish society. It will give you a broad-based introduction to a number of different aspects of sustainability that impact on Scotland and the wider world. First published on Wed, 30 Mar 2016 a
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Climate change
Climate change is a key issue on today's social and political agenda. This free course explores the basic science that underpins climate change and global warming. First published on Tue, 30 Oct 2018 as Climate change. To find out more visit The Open University's Author(s): Creator not set

The science of nuclear energy
This free course, The science of nuclear energy, will delve into the science behind nuclear power and explain what happens inside a nuclear reactor and what it means for an element to be radioactive. It will explore some of the risks of producing nuclear power and examine the arguments for and against including it in future energy planning as well as looking at other potential future solutions. Author(s): Creator not set

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Eutrophication
Managing eutrophication is a key element in maintaining the earths biodiversity. Eutrophication is a process mostly associated with human activity whereby ecosystems accumulate minerals. This free course, Eutrophication, explains how this process occurs, what its effects on different types of habitat are, and how it might be managed. First published on Mo
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Understanding water quality
Water is arguably the most important physical resource as it is the one that is essential to human survival. Understanding the global water cycle and how we use water is essential to planning a sustainable source of water for the future. In the UK there are areas where water supplies are limited, shown by recent droughts. Globally, there are many areas that do not have enough water to support the current population adequately. Decisions will have to be made on the best way to use water in a worl
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Environment: treading lightly on the Earth
Environment: treading lightly on the Earth focuses on the problem of greenhouse gas emissions, especially carbon dioxide. This free course will give you an understanding of the nature and importance of carbon footprints of individuals and households. It will enable you to measure your own carbon footprint and explore what you could do to reduce that footprint and so ‘tread more lightly on the Earth’.Author(s): Creator not set

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Environment: understanding atmospheric and ocean flows
What affects the atmospheric and ocean flows? This free course, Environment: understanding atmospheric and ocean flows, explores the mechanisms that are important; the most rapid carrier is the wind. The basic principle of global atmospheric circulation is simple: warm air rises and cold air sinks. How does this principle affect the atmosphere and flow of water in practical terms? Starting with an iconic environmental icon, the polar bear, you will learn how global flows of water, heat and pollu
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Animals at the extremes: Hibernation and torpor
Hibernation is an ingenious adaptation that some animals employ to survive difficult conditions in winter. This free course, Animals at the extremes: Hibernation and torpor, examines the differences between hibernation and torpor, and discusses the characteristic signs of hibernation behaviour. It explores the triggers that bring on hibernation, and whether internal signals or external season cues are predominant. It also examines the physiological adaptations that occur in hibernating animals.
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The oceans
The oceans cover more than 70 per cent of our planet. In this free course, The oceans, you will learn about the depths of the oceans and the properties of the water that fills them, what drives the ocean circulation and how the oceans influence our climate. First published on Tue, 26 Jul 2016 as Author(s): Creator not set

Waste management and environmentalism in China
This free course, Waste management and environmentalism in China, is an introduction to waste generation and waste management processes currently being practiced in China. This course explores how the Chinese can deal with increasing volumes of waste, drawing parallels with the UK experience of waste management. It also discusses the conceptual tools that can be used to make the cycle of material use, waste production and treatment more sustainable. The course ends with a brief examination of th
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Aquatic mammals
Mammals come in a bewildering variety of shapes and sizes and yet all of the 4700 or so species have some characteristics in common, which justifies the inclusion of diverse types within a single group. Although mammals evolved on land, a number of species have become adapted to spending part or all of their lives in water and it is these mammals that you are going to concentrate on in this course. You will meet some aquatic mammals, find out how we can study them, consider their evolutionary hi
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Can renewable energy sources power the world?
We ask the question ‘Can renewable energy sources power the world?’ as a response to the growing awareness that increased use of renewable energy technologies is making a major contribution to global efforts to limit anthropogenic climate change. The course begins by examining the environmental concerns that have caused a rise in interest in renewable energy, introducing the main sources and technologies, and describing global efforts to increase the share of renewables. The course then look
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