1.1 Entitlements and obligations

Informal conversation with nature invokes intuitive ideas about human understanding and appreciation of value. The conversation develops practical ideas about how our entitlements affect our access to, and our relationships with, other constituents of the natural world. It also helps us to develop a sense of obligation towards the natural world. These less formalised aspects of responsibility are shaped by, and give shape to, the more codified rights and duties that provide guidance on our re
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References

Allison, L. (1991) Ecology and Utility: The Philosophical Dilemmas of Planetary Management, Leicester, Leicester University Press.
BBC (2008) ‘The wrong way to a warmer world?’ [online], BBC News, 3 April, http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/programmes/analysis/7328634.stm (accessed 15/4/10).
van den Born, R.J.G. (2008) ‘Rethinking nature: public visions in the Netherlands
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Keep on learning

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2.4 Summarising conversation as what matters

Brian Wynne suggests that fundamental dichotomies associated with environmental matters underpin modern society – society versus nature, the social versus the natural, social knowledge versus natural knowledge, expert knowledge versus lay knowledge (1996, p. 45). The metaphor of conversation helps to move us beyond these dichotomous constructs and allows us to focus more on the integral relationships enmeshed in nature matters, relationships that I would argue are central to environmental r
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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 bac
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2.1 Conversing with environment

Consider a situation involving what might be regarded as eco-social collapse. For example, the trigger of global warming (caused primarily by use of fossil fuels in developed countries) has encouraged the rapid development of biofuel agriculture through grants from rich countries in the global North to Brazil and other tropical countries in the global South. This has generated both ecological problems (deforestation, pesticide pollution, etc.) and socio-economic problems – particularly with
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1.2 Connecting human and non-human nature

Environmental responsibility – caring and generating accountability – requires interaction between human and non-human nature. For example, from a caring perspective what matters in climate change might constitute, say, the continued existence and protection of an arctic wilderness (Figure 3). But this necessarily involves a conn
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Learning outcomes

After studying this course, you should be able to:

  • appreciate different connotations and traditions of the terms ‘nature’ and ‘environment’ in the context of environmental responsibility

  • use conversation as a core metaphor for describing ‘what matters’ in environmental responsibility

  • identify and compare formal and less formal expressions of environmental responsibility.


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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

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

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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5.6 Land and water pollution

In this section we will just take a couple of examples that show how easy it is to expose ourselves to long-term damage inadvertently. Pesticides, developed to control insects and other vermin, can increase agricultural productivity. Although pesticides were originally hailed as one of the wonders of modern technology, it was quite quickly discovered that there was a downside to their widespread use. One problem was that of bioaccumulation. Pesticides tended to be stable chemicals and
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Learning outcomes

After studying this course, you should be able to:

  • relate the temperature of a solid to the mean kinetic energy of its atoms

  • use models for thermally induced effects that involve linear, exponential and step changes

  • use exponentials, logarithms and graphical methods to interpret data from a thermally activated process in terms of Arrhenius's law

  • identify the changes of phase taking place in a variety of critical phenomena


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Appendix 2 Acronyms

APCangle-polished convex (connector)
ASEamplified spontaneous emission
ASKamplitude shift keying
cwcontinuous wave
DSFdispersion-shifted fibre
DWDMdense wavelength division multiplexing
EDFAerbium-doped fibr
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2.1 Light sources and detectors

The basic building blocks of an optical-fibre link are the light source, the fibre and the detector (Figure 1).

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4 Introduction to systems practice

This course teaches some aspects of systems thinking and practice. But what does it mean to be a systems practitioner, and is it different to being a manager? This section attempts to answer those questions.

First, I believe a good systems practitioner will be more competent at handling complex situations, more capable of managing their working and domestic lives, and more able to learn not only how to learn but also how to act more effectively by using systemic concepts and techniques.
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1.6 Building on strengths

Activity 1

A self-review exercise for your learning file

The aim of this activity is to encourage you to take a problem-solving approach to your own learning, and to be proactive. The first part asks you to refle
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Inuit Throat Singing
In many cultures, song is perhaps one of the most important traditions. What is extraordinary about the Inuit musical tradition is the way they create their songs - with notes originating from their throats. The song isn't interrupted even when a breath has to be taken. The 6 tracks in this album focus on Tanya Tagaq, who describes the amazing art of throat singing and how her heritage and culture, carried in her heart forever, has driven her to continue with this unique tradition. This mater
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Except for third party materials and otherwise stated (see http://www.open.ac.uk/conditions terms and conditions), this content is made available under a http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2