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2.3.1 Public participation and perspectives on sustainability

When it comes to issues around the environment, ‘experts’ – whether ecologists, economists or other types of social scientist – are clearly not infallible. Environmental crises have led to a questioning of traditional expert support as a guarantor of environmental planning. This has had two consequences. Firstly, there have been some interesting and useful explorations amongst environmentalists in seeking guarantors through the domain of spiritualism. In particular, traditional worldv
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2.3.1 The risk society

The shift from an anthropocentric concern around issues of human poverty in industrial society towards a more ecocentric concern around environmental issues in the ‘risk society’ has been expressed by the German sociologist Ulrich Beck. His 1992 book Risk Society: Towards a New Modernity suggests a shift from the safety state of industrialised society, where conflicts were manifest in struggles amongst socio-economic groups, to a society where conflicts arise from issues of uncerta
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2.3 Social valuation: towards ecological citizenship

An important practical question is whether the standard tools of economics are adequate for describing and monitoring sustainable development. If we consider either the Brundtland ‘essential needs of the poor’ condition for sustainability, or the idea that we ought to try to secure a certain level of quality of life for future people equivalent to that of some people today, it would appear that economics will not be enough by itself. This is because each of these concepts demands more tha
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1.3 The influence of environmental ethics: value and care

Religious ethics can play a significant role in shaping appropriate narratives that provide for a lived ethic – that is, the obligations and entitlements associated with human relationships with Nature that embody what’s good and what’s right. But how might other ethical traditions help towards developing a lived ethic? To what extent has the emergence of environmental ethics since the 1970s influenced a lived ethic commensurate with developing care for the environment?

Andrew Lig
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Acknowledgements

Except for third party materials and otherwise stated (see terms and conditions), this content is made available under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 Licence

Grateful acknowledgement is made to the following:

Reading: Stephen Talbott, ‘Toward
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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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Conclusion

This free course provided an introduction to studying Education, Childhood & Youth qualifications. It took you through a series of exercises designed to develop your approach to study and learning at a distance and helped to improve your confidence as an independent learner.


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7.4 Closing thoughts

Of course, doing anything about this needs scientific evidence and understanding, but it also requires social, economic and technological changes, which can only be achieved through political will. If you want to explore some of the broader context, a good place to start would be the New Internationalist issue 357, ‘The Big Switch: Climate Change Solutions’ at New Internationalist.

Faced with the sort of predictions climatologists are making, is it sufficient for science teac
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7.3 Running the models forward

What happens when the models are run forward? It depends upon the models used and the scenarios they are asked to run. It seems almost certain, however, that there will be increases in the global mean surface temperature, to the order of +1.5 to +4.5 °C (– possibly more, according to some models and scenarios.

These changes are predicted to be associated with increases in sea level, changes to weather conditions (e.g. more regular and violent winter storms in the UK) and changes to t
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7.2 Comparing modelled and observed temperature

The IPCC comparison between modelled and observed temperatures since the year 1860 is shown in the three charts below

5 Human influence?

Evidence suggests that global temperature is beginning to rise. There are several factors that could cause this. Only one is affected by human activity.

Click on the link below to view a chart showing the rates of energy gain and loss by the Earth's surface and atmosphere

Energy gain and loss
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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 the link below to open the data-smoothing information


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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 the link below to see the chart


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3.2 Multiple causes

Now we will explore multiple causes using an example familiar to us all – road accidents. The deaths of about 10 people each day on the UK's roads are less dramatic than, for example, the capsize of the Herald of Free Enterprise, but one feature that links them both is the element of risk associated with everything we do – and even with inaction.

We have just seen that many factors contribute to the risks which result from the inherent hazards associated with something we do.
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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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Learning outcomes

After studying this course, you should be able to:

  • define and use, or recognize definitions and applications of, each of the terms in bold in the text

  • understand the complexity of the interdependence between organisms and their environment

  • describe some of the consequences for health of pollution

  • explain why it is difficult to gain international agreements to secure biodiversity and reduce pollution.


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Acknowledgements

Except for third party materials and otherwise stated (see terms and conditions), this content is made available under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 Licence

The material acknowledged below is contained in: Ordering the International: History, Chan
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Keep on learning

Study another free course

There are more than 800 courses on OpenLearn for you to
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Music in Code
Today, listening to music is easy - we have CDs, MP3s, radio, television and the internet. But around a hundred years ago life was very different - either you had to play music yourself or have someone else play it for you. The 15 video tracks in this album demonstrate various ways to play music by mechanical means, with the ingenious use of levers, pegs, cylinders or paper rolls, and explain the principles used to create and control these music-making machines. This material forms part of TA212
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