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6.4.1 The dual nature of technology

Exercise 5

List the main advantages to you of using a refrigerator in your home, then list some of the potential environmental hazards that using a fridge might entail.

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5.3 Settlement, deforestation and endangered species

Box 4: Some indicators of New Zealand's environment*

The proportion of New Zealand converted to farmland is large by world standards (52 percent compared to the world's 37 percent in 1993). Although our human population density is comparatively low (13 people for each square kilometre (km2
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3.2 The agreement to protect the ozone layer

After a decade of controversy about the possible effects of CFCs, in 1985 British scientists discovered over the Antarctic a quite unexpected ‘hole’ in the ozone layer which was the size of the USA. This helped to galvanise the international community into action (though some who took part in the negotiations claim it played little part). By 1987 the first international agreement to control substances damaging to the ozone layer, the Montreal Protocol, was established. Interestingl
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2.1 Environment and technology

A central concern of environmental studies is the relationship between technology and our environment: how people use technology to transform materials into forms which can meet our needs and wants. In the process of doing this we inevitably change the environment which provides these materials but which also supports all life.

A few moments ago I went to my fridge and took some milk out to add to a cup of coffee. I used this common example of a modern domestic appliance without a secon
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1 Introductory advice

There are two ways to approach this Introduction. The first is the more natural one: to read it straight through to get a general feel for its style and content, and to see whether you are going to find the unit and the issues it raises interesting; in short, to get an overview. There is nothing wrong with this at all.

You will find as you read through it, though, that the Introduction covers a wide range of topics. In part this is because the unit authors takes a broad vi
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8 Further reading

For a wide-ranging, accessible and powerful defence of the idea of universal human rights and their role in the international system, see Chapters 1, 5, 6 and 7 of Beetham, D. (1999) Democracy and Human Rights, Cambridge, Polity Press.

For a brilliant feminist discussion of the claims of culture and the claims of universal rights, set in a context of a range of concrete, contemporary examples, see Benhabib, S. (2002) The Claims of Culture: Equality and Diversity in the Global
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7 Conclusion

One might think of the different interpretations of internationally recognised notions of rights and justice as running along a spectrum, from which we shall now identify four different positions.

  • The first interpretation would argue that, overall, the extension of rights to the international sphere has been benign and effective. It has led and will lead to further successful claims for justice.

Evidence for the development of a globa
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5.2 Human rights in the international arena

The UN's 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights asserted that the ‘recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world’. It further affirmed that human rights should be protected by the rule of law, that they were ‘essential to promote the development of friendly relations between nations’, that these fundamental human rights include the equal rights between men
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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
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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
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1.5 Offshore fragments of industry: a pro-market standpoint

From a pro-market standpoint, global market forces and the competitive pressures that they generate leave businesses with no choice but to take advantage of lower labour costs elsewhere. In the textile business or the toy business, lower wage costs are the key to profitability; if your competitors find a cheaper labour source, you either follow their example or go out of business. It is not, so the argument runs, because managers lack integrity or compassion that there are now more manufactur
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1.3 Activity 1

Activity 1

Before you read on, I would like you to dwell for just a moment on the significance of this shift from direct investment by Western firms to the establishment of subcontracting ties with overseas partners. Aside from outside
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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
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1.3 Activities

Activity 4A engages you in developing a more sophisticated visual model of one of the themes raised in the ‘Powerdown Show’ programme. The sign graph diagramming technique is the ultimate visual modelling approach for revealing positive and negative feedback relationships, so you will be using this technique to first explore, and then communicate, the dynamic nature of the complex situation you have chosen to investigate.

The first sign graph you will develop will focus on r
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5.6 Referencing

We mentioned above that we need to reference sources to ensure we abide by copyright legislation. But there is another reason we need to give accurate references to items we use – so we can share it.

Consider this scenario. A friend says they’ve just read an interesting article where Joshua Schachter, founder of Delicious has spoken about why it isn’t a faceted search system, and you should read it. How would you go about finding it? Would you start looking in a news database, a s
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5.3.1 Desktop search tools

Finding your paperwork or electronic files can be a problem. You may find that even if you do have some sort of filing system, your structure soon gets quite large with files in multiple locations, which can be hard to navigate. You may find yourself making arbitrary decisions about which folder to place a document in. It may make sense now but in the future, when you look where you think it should be, it’s not there.

At times like this you may resort to the search command from the Wi
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4.1 PROMPT

There is so much information available on the internet on every topic imaginable. But how do you know if it is any good? And if you find a lot more information than you really need, how do you decide what to keep and who to discard?

In this section we are going to introduce a simple checklist to help you to judge the quality of the information you find. Before we do this, spend a few minutes thinking about what is meant by information quality.

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3.5 Images

Images can also be found online. Some useful image databases are:


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3.4 Databases

At a basic level, a database is a collection of information which can be searched. It is a way of storing, indexing, organising and retrieving information. You may have created one yourself to keep track of your references – or your friends' names and addresses. They are useful for finding articles on a topic, and can be used to search for many different types of information.

You may find some of the following databases useful for your topic. They contain different types of informatio
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Checklist of common features

  • Is there any online help?

  • Can I do a simple search?

  • Can I look at the information in both short and detailed form?

  • Can I choose where in the record I want my search terms to be found?

  • Can I search for phrases?

  • Can I combine search terms?

  • Can I use truncation?

  • Can I use wildcards?

  • Can I do an advanced search?

  • Can I get a list
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