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3 How heavy is your footprint?

You've seen that individual and household carbon footprints vary widely both within and between countries. So, in this section you'll be working out your own carbon footprint using the computer-based calculator linked in the box below. This is the Quick version of this calculator. A more detailed and complete version is available when formally studying the Environment: journeys through a changing
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1.4 An overview of the global energy budget

Figure 12 incorporates the additional factors considered in Section 1.3, including the non-radiative energy transfers across the surface-air boundary (green arrow). Essentially a more detailed version of Figure 7, this figure gives quantified estimates of the globally averaged energy budget for the whole Earth-atmosphere system, and its component parts. Question 3 should help you to find your way around Figure 12, and to draw together many of the key points developed so far in this chapter. M
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1.3 Energy flows within the Earth-atmosphere system

Before we focus on the enhanced greenhouse effect, we need to refine the schematic representation in Figure 7 and draw in some of the other processes that influence the Earth's temperature – not only at the surface, but also at different levels within the atmosphere.


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Text

Box 1: ‘O sweet spontaneous’. Copyright 1923. Trustees for the E E Cummings Trust.

Box 5: Maugh, T H (2008) ‘The MIT Meteorologist’s theory
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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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1.2 A framing paradox: experiencing nature with cognitive tools

Whilst language tools are helpful in conveying meaning in conversation amongst humans, establishing what matters in ‘conversation’ between human and non-human nature, or amongst non-human living entities, requires different cognitive tools. Cognition refers to the way in which external information from the environment is processed. As sentient beings, humans and some other animals are able to experience wellbeing and suffering. In the next reading, Ronald Moore examines how we engage with
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Introduction

This unit explores conceptual tools for assisting our thinking and deliberation on what matters. In Section 1, a reading by Ronald Moore introduces the notion of 'framing' nature, raising the perceived paradox of inevitably devaluing an aesthetically pleasing unframed entity. Three further readings, two from Fritjof Capra and one from Werner Ulrick (all of which are quite short and markedly reduced from their original courses), provide an understanding of systems thinking for explicitly frami
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1.3.6 Activity 4

Activity 4

Nike drew up its code of conduct, as I have indicated, to meet its own concerns. Cast your eye down the checklist in Extract 2 and give yourself time to consider what issues might have been added if the code had been drawn u
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1.2.6 Defining global markets

Global markets for manufactured goods, as opposed to, say, primary commodities such as oil and timber, arose largely in the second half of the twentieth century as trade between countries intensified. The lowering of transport costs and the relative fall in trade barriers enabled firms in one country to compete with a domestic rival in another. The supply of manufactured goods across the globe as a result of worldwide demand, principally from the affluent economies, thus heightened competitio
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1.2.4 Offshore fragments of industry: the negative standpoint

Nike Inc., the US sportswear firm, did in fact take the lead in organising its overseas manufacturing business on a subcontracting basis (Donaghu and Barff, 1990). Early on in the 1970s, it established a web of contractual relationships (or partnerships, as it preferred to call them), with factories in Taiwan and South Korea, to produce its branded footwear. Of these factories, the big-volume producers among them were also contracted to other Western firms to produce a range of footwear. Nike
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Learning outcomes

On completion of this unit you should be able to:

  • explain the main characteristics of ‘sweatshops’, and their presence in today's system of globalised production;

  • set out the arguments for and against overseas sweatshop exploitation;

  • consider how far the consumption of cheap branded goods makes consumers responsible for the conditions under which they are made;

  • show how consumers are distanced from overseas sweatshop exploitation,
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6.6 Long-term energy scenarios

To begin to understand the range of long-term future possibilities, let us look briefly at two major studies of future sustainable energy options, the first addressing the UK situation, the second taking a world perspective.


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5.2.1 Supply-side measures

On the supply side of our energy systems, there is a very large potential for improving the efficiency of electricity generation by introducing new technologies that are more efficient than older power plant. The efficiency of a power plant is the percentage of the energy content of the fuel input that is converted into electricity output over a given time period. Since the early days of electricity production, power plant efficiency has been improving steadily. The most advanced form
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3.5 Hydroelectricity

Another energy source that has been harnessed by humanity for many centuries is the power of flowing water, which has been used for milling corn, pumping and driving machinery. During the twentieth century, its main use has been in the generation of hydroelectricity, and hydropower has grown to become one of the world's principal electricity sources. It currently provides some 2.3 per cent of world primary energy. However, the relative contribution of hydroelectric power (and of other electri
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2.1 What is energy?

‘Energy is Eternal Delight’

William Blake, 1757–1827 (1994)

What do we mean by ‘energy’? What does the concept of ‘sustainability’ entail? And what, for that matter, do we mean by the ‘future’ in this context?

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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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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 Emergency planning – the process

Usually, when emergency plans are prepared the hazards already exist, and may have been there for some time. The liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) stores in the middle of many cities are a classic example. They ‘grew’ in the former coal yards adjacent to railways. Their presence may be accepted, whereas a new development with similar hazard potential might give rise to objections.

In the preparation of plans, the phenomenon known as ‘agenda setting’ must be taken into account. This
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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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4.4 Genetic diversity and mass extinctions

It is for this reason that there are now international agreements on the need to work together to retain genetic diversity in all species and, more generally, biological diversity (species and habitat diversity).

Question 10

From a
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