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2.3 Using conversation to construct environmental responsibility

If conversation is a creative exercise, in what sense might this be applied to the concept of responsibility around climate change? As David Cooper implies (Box 3), global ideas about the environment, such as climate change, are necessarily abstract and therefore lack the meaning and significance required to nurture appropriate respon
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2.2 Informal and formal conversations

The process of conversation is, of course, interactive. It requires listening (Figure 5) and feeding back. In human conversations the interactive process is largely enabled through a shared language. In conversing with nature the challenge is in formulating the right ‘language’, in terms of both ‘listening’ and ‘feeding back
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Introduction

This unit explores different understandings of nature and environment and the significance these may have for developing responsibility. The problems of connecting human and non-human nature are presented here as being a challenge peculiar to the concerns of environmental responsibility. They provide the impetus for exploring the idea of ‘conversation’ as a metaphor for what matters in environmental responsibility. Using a reading by Stephen Talbott as a foundation, the conversation me
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Acknowledgements

Author

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
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4 Further reading

For information on changes to flora, click on Science magazine.

For changes to fauna, and economic effects, go to Information Sheet 4, or for the paper quoted at the top of the screen, Information Sheet 1, both at Climatic Research Unit.

Click on 'View document' to open the data-smoothing information

2 A 4.6 billion-year history

Climate change is a natural process of warming and cooling that has occurred all through the Earth's history. Throughout geological time there have been ‘hot-house’ periods and ice ages. In order to understand the current situation, it is necessary to have some sense of context and perspective, from historical and geological time-scales. The document below shows a chart showing a generalised temperature history of the Earth.

Click on 'View document' to see the chart

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1 Natural climate change?

The chart below shows a record of the global mean surface temperature of the Earth compiled for the past 140 years. Clearly there is an upward trend, but what does a chart like this really show?

Learning outcomes

The learning outcomes for this unit are to:

  • Develop an understanding of the current evidence for global warming.

  • Model and apply the techniques of ‘measuring’ the Earth's temperature.

  • Understand the current warming in relation to climate changes throughout the Earth's history.

  • Explain factors forcing climate change, and the extent of anthropogenic influence.

  • Assess the ‘best predictions’ of current climate model
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Introduction

This unit provides an introduction to global warming. We will be considering the history of global warming by looking at the pattern of ice ages and analysis of recorded temperatures. We will aim to gather meaningful information from this data. We will briefly assess the impact and influence of humans on global warming and, finally, we will examine climate models and how to predict future changes.


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Acknowledgements

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Tables

Table 4 Hammer, W. (1981), ‘Occupational Safety Management and Engineering’,
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References

Anon. (2003) ‘Spy chief warns food industry over terrorism’, Environmental Health News, 24 October 2003, p. 2.
Cabinet Office (2003) Dealing with Disaster, revised 3rd edn, Civil Contingencies Secretariat.
Commercial Union Risk Management Ltd (1992) ‘Crisis: A timetable for recovery’.
Dodswell, B. (2000)
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6 Conclusion

Perhaps it is a truism to say that all life is full of risk. We encounter many uncalculated outcomes, some beneficial and others adverse. It can be difficult to know which adverse events will prove permanently disadvantageous, since some may lead to innovation and opportunities for the future. Businesses, especially in the financial context, often consider risk in terms of opportunities for gain. Risk in our context is a way of describing the probability and consequences of harm, or at worst
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5.5 Emergency planning as an organisational management function

If emergency services' EPOs plan to respond to other people's emergencies, people managing a business activity with major incident potential have a different perspective. They have to respond to emergencies within their own organisation. In effect, if an incident occurs, the organisation is itself in a crisis, with functionality impaired. All of this comes into the corporate governance area and the implications of internal control. This requires companies to ensure that they have a sound syst
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5.1 Introduction

Much of this unit is about risk, but as we have seen, it is a word with different interpretations – the risk of harm, the chance of gain or simple uncertainty, for example. So it may be seen as a balance between conformance and performance in an organisation. Although functional emphasis and management boundaries are inherently flexible, risk linked to harm typically represents the perspective of managers responsible for conformance activities – particularly, the financial controller, int
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Acknowledgements

The content acknowledged below is Proprietary (see terms and conditions) and is used under licence.

Grateful acknowledgement is made to the following sources for permission to use material:

Unit Image

Ollie O'Brien

All other materials included in this unit are d
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9 Unit questions

Unit Question A

Foxes eat rabbits and rabbits eat dandelions. Predict what will happen if rabbit numbers are severely reduced (e.g. by disease). How confident are you about your predictions?

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8 Summary

  • We are biologically predisposed to provide for our offspring and may try to ensure that this provision continues after our death. However, our interactions with other members of society are wide-ranging and many people leave legacies to benefit the wider community.

  • All species alter their environment to some extent because they do not live in isolation from one another. The study of the interactions between plants, animals and their environ
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7 Some philosophical issues

In this unit we have considered global issues that have implications for our health and the health of future generations. This places our own lives in a different context and also indicates the uncertainties that surround the future. Whilst some environmental changes have very direct health consequences, we should not forget the indirect benefits that accrue from a healthy planet. The principle that ‘we should hand on to the next generation an environment no less rich than the one we
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6 Population growth

Earlier it was stated that three factors check population growth. These are predation, disease and insufficient food supply. For much of our history, our ancestors’ numbers were indeed limited by wars, disease and famine. The world population remained relatively stable until around 300 years ago. Then at the beginning of the 19th century (100 years after population growth started its geometric increase), the demographer Thomas Malthus predicted that population growth would outstrip food pro
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5.4 The ozone hole

Another group of greenhouse gases, the chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), are double villains because they are also implicated in the destruction of the ozone in the upper atmosphere. CFCs are synthetic gases used in aerosols, as solvents and as coolants in refrigerators. They are also used to make a light insulating material called Styrofoam, from which packaging for hot take-away food containers can be constructed. It has been relatively easy to get international cooperation to ban further product
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