2.3 Contested science: a case study

For complex issues such as global climate change, there are many opportunities for scientists to take issue with the findings of their colleagues. They can disagree about the procedures for gathering data, the completeness or coverage of the data, how the data are analysed and interpreted, and then finally the conclusions. The assumptions that shape a particular piece of research and inform the kind of questions that will be asked can be no less contentious than the quality of the data gather
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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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1.2 What determines the Earth's GMST?

The Sun is the ultimate source of energy for the Earth's climate. A planet such as the Earth will have a stable temperature as long as there is a balance between the rate at which energy comes in from the Sun and the rate at which it is returned to space by the planet. If the two rates fail to match, the planet will either warm up or cool down until a balance is restored. Thus, it is appropriate to begin with a review of this global balancing act. The heart of the matter is that the energy fl
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1.4.3 Framing reality from a critical perspective

The question arising from the previous two imperatives of systems thinking – dealing with holism and engaging with multiple perspectives – is how we might develop frameworks that deal responsibly with our inevitable limitations on being holistically comprehensive and epistemologically ‘multiverse’. Ulrich reminds us that a ‘systems approach’ to environmental responsibility is perhaps not quite the panacea that it so often mistakenly promises to be. Take, for example, the ‘ecosys
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1.4.1 Dealing meaningfully with holism

Ulrich's primary observation is quite straightforward. Any system as a human construct is unable to capture the total complexity of interrelationships and interdependencies that make up the real world. This idea resonates with the paradox of framing referred to by Moore. It also resonates with Ilan Kapoor's reference to the work of Slavoj Žižek, quoted earlier: ‘Reality is what we (mistakenly) take to be wholeness or harmony, while the Real denotes the impossibility of wholeness’ (Kapoo
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1.4 Nature matters in terms of a critical systems literacy

The systems philosopher and social planner Werner Ulrich has long argued for a more ethically informed idea of systems. Before looking at Ulrich's ideas, however, it is worth returning to examine the relevance of the earlier Moore and Martell readings to this subject.

One of the hallmarks of systems thinking is a recognition of the limits of holism, relating to the problem of aesthetic framing expressed by Ronald Moore (2006, p. 263):

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1.1 Framing nature using language tools

By framing, I mean the structures and pre-assumptions that we consciously or unconsciously apply to a situation in order to make sense of it. So are there any differences between the way in which we frame nature in caring for environment and the way in which we frame it to provide accountability? What significance might this have, and what tools might be used to bridge the responsibilities of caring and accountability?

Caring for environment makes manifest the informal aspects of
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Keep on learning

Study another free course

There are more than 800 courses on OpenLearn for you t
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1.5 Conclusion

Throughout this course, a major concern has been to show how the demand of the antisweatshop movement that we not only respond to, but take responsibility for, economic injustices, no matter how distant, is an intensely controversial one. Claims by campaigning groups such as Oxfam and Christian Aid that consumer demand for cheap branded goods perpetuates poverty wage levels in the sweatshop industries are countered by claims from the pro-market lobby which point in an altogether differ
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1.4.3 It's all down to connections

For Iris Marion Young, the responsibility of those in North America and Europe towards distant others does indeed rest with their connections to injustices elsewhere, but it would be a mistake to stretch this line of reasoning too far. Although these connections, whether as a consumer, boardroom executive or shop manager, can establish a line of responsibility, as was claimed in Section 3.1, for Young this is only the starting point and not the end point of our involvement. We do not have to
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1.4.1 Introduction

Up to now I have focused on the claims of the antisweatshop movement and the counter-claims of those who contest the purely negative conclusions drawn about the exploitation of another country's poor. To that end, I have, at various moments, touched on issues of demands to take responsibility: whether, for instance, responsibility for sweatshops should be divided up in some way between all those connected to the market system which gives rise to them, or placed firmly at the door of the big r
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1.3.5 Corporate connections

As I mentioned in Section 2, what was happening in the factories of overseas contractors was said to have appeared remote to most, if not all, the chief executive officers of the clothing multinationals in the 1980s. Overseas contractors were selected on the basis of market price, quality and reliability, not on whether forced or child labour happened to be employed to stitch the product together. However, all that changed in the early 1990s when the geographical ties between the big retailer
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1.3.4 Bringing remote sweatshops within reach continued

Another claim made by the movement is that we are all in some way connected to a market system which effectively allows sweatshops to exist in the first place. This is about more than targeting the big brand names and linking them directly to exploitation abroad; rather, it is about piecing together the global market machinery that ties the corporate buyer, the boardroom executive, the factory owner and the consumer into a system which establishes particular lines of responsibility (Ha
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1.2.8 In praise of cheap offshore labour? continued

There are two points which are central to this line of thinking. One, according to Wolf (2004), is that the whole process, as odd as it may sound, is about mutual exploitation. Outside firms do indeed exploit the poor by taking advantage of the profitable opportunities that a pool of cheap labour represents. But Indonesian or Chinese workers, for instance, could be said to exploit the incoming firms by extracting higher pay from them and taking advantage of opportunities that previousl
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Acknowledgements

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, The Open University, is responsible for the manage
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References

Climatic Research Unit (2003) Information Sheets at http://www.cru.uea.ac.uk
New Internationalist (2003) ‘The Big Switch: Climate Change Solutions’, June, issue number 357.
The Open University (1998) S103 Discovering Science , Block 2 ‘A Temperate Earth?’, Milton Keynes, The Open University.

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6 Further reading

The models being used in research take such simple energy flows and increase the ‘granularity’ of the components used, to build complex time sequences.

You may like to see Modelling climate change (Information Sheet 8) at the website of the Author(s): The Open University

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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5.7.1 Plan preparation

Perhaps the first question to ask is ‘What is an emergency plan?’ Dodswell, in his guide to business continuity management, defined an ‘emergency management plan’ as simply:

A plan which supports the emergency management team by providing them with information and guidelines.

(Dodswell, 2000, p. 56)

Another definition, of an ‘emergency preparedness plan’ prepared in the co
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