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6 6 Energy in a sustainable future

How can we improve the sustainability of human energy use in the future?

In the past 50 years the changes in patterns of energy production and consumption have been radical. If we are to improve the sustainability of our energy systems, equally profound changes might well be necessary over the next 50 to 100 years.

New, ‘clean’ technologies could help to mitigate some of the adverse consequences of fossil and nuclear fuels by improving the efficiency of systems and reducing po
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1 1 Why sustainable energy matters

One of the greatest challenges facing humanity during the twenty-first century must surely be that of giving everyone on the planet access to safe, clean and sustainable energy supplies.

Throughout history, the use of energy has been central to the functioning and development of human societies. But during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, humanity learned how to harness the highly-concentrated forms of energy contained within fossil fuels. These provided the power that drove the
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Glossary

Glossary itemDefinition
atomthe smallest amount of a chemical element that still retains the properties of that element.
biodiversitya contraction of ‘biological diversity’, in general it describes the variety of life on Earth and specifically the total sum of the genes, species, ha
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5.4 Discussion

We seem to have travelled a long way from the Industrial Revolution in Europe, but many of the impacts on New Zealand's ecosystems described here can be traced, in part at least, to reverberations from these developments.

What lessons can be drawn from this example? Perhaps I should start by emphasising this is not meant to be a complete account of the environmental history of New Zealand. For example, I have not discussed any responses from the population once they realised that harm w
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2.3 The Industrial Revolution and its environmental impacts

The environmental issues you have identified in your answer to the first exercise are likely to be complex and difficult to unravel, yet alone resolve. Rather than attempt that at this stage I'd like to start this section with another question. Where does our material prosperity come from? To which one short answer would be ‘The Industrial Revolution’. In the space of less than 100 years between the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, first Britain, then several other count
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5.8 Review of criticisms of international rights

Activity 1

Review the four criticisms of rights at the international level discussed in the previous sections.

  1. Identify which of these criticisms are objections in principle to the discourse of
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5.1 Rights, justice and international politics

What happens to notions of rights and justice when we move the discussion to the level of international politics?

In fact, three crucial things happen:

  1. The meaning of rights takes its bearings from the rights discourse developed from the UN Declaration. We will investigate the effects of this, both on rights and on international politics.

  2. We find that it is not always easy to establish who the right can be claimed against. In
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Learning outcomes

By the end of this unit you should be able to:

  • understand the different interpretations of internationally recognised notions of rights and justice;

  • give examples of implementing justice in an international sphere;

  • investigate questions in international studies;

  • analyse the different agencies of change in the international system.


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Learning outcomes

After studying this unit you should be able to:

  • understand how the world is in the process of ‘being made’, right down to the earth beneath our feet;

  • consider how islands are shaped by a dynamic relationship between territories and flows;

  • show how human life is entangled with non-human forces and processes in the making of today's globalised world.


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1.2.3 Climate change: survival at stake

Despite efforts to define it, the boundary between land and sea is constantly changing. In the long run the combination of rising sea level, sinking land and possible major storms, such as the one that devastated the Essex coast in 1953 (Figure 16), indicates a battle that the sea must ultimately win.

Figure 16
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1.2.1 Managing risk in conditions of uncertainty

Earlier we considered what is meant by ‘environmental responses’. There are two aspects to this concept. One is the response made by the environment to processes of change, whether brought about by natural or human causes or a combination of both. The other is the response to environmental changes made by humans or non-humans. In this section we shall consider both of these aspects of response by focusing on an issue of particular significance in the Blackwater: how the envi
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4.2 Environmental and labour standards

Question

Look back at Section 1. Why do trade unions in rich countries take up the cause of poor environmental and working conditions in developing countries as they did at Seattle? And why are developing country governments unwilling
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3.2.2 The protection of intellectual property: the costs of TRIPS

Apart from the internal redistribution of income resulting from greater exposure to the world economy, the effects of one of the UR agreements in particular have achieved a certain notoriety because the agreement clearly imposes huge costs on farmers and consumers in developing countries, to the benefit of corporations in developed countries. This is the agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS), which strengthens international rules governing patents, tradema
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3.1.2 Textiles and clothing

Here, the conflict is largely between developing country exporters and developed countries that were reluctant to expose their textile producers to cheaper imports. Here too the UR agreement had a proviso to soften its immediate impact, and a loophole that developing countries seem not to have anticipated. In order to enable textile producers in developed countries to adjust gradually to increased import competition, quantitative restrictions were to be phased out over ten years, starting in
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1.1 The WTO

The Ministerial Declaration adopted by WTO members at Doha on 14 November 2001 fails to address the most pressing needs either of the poorest countries or of the world's most vulnerable communities. This means that the people who most need a share in global prosperity are still those least likely to obtain it.

(A joint statement by Actionaid, CAFOD, Christian Aid, Oxfam, Save the Children and five other charities a
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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 2.0 Licence

Grateful acknowledgement is made to the following sources for permission to reproduce material within this book.

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1.1 Aim

The activities and resources in this section engage you in an interdisciplinary investigation of your personal ecology by looking at a range of temporal, spatial, and organisational scales – from the personal to the global, from the short term to the long term. The aim is to gather evidence to he
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2.4 Oral and written communication

Humans use language to communicate. This is an obvious statement, but what is language and how do we use it? Language is basically a set of symbols with associated meanings. These symbols are delivered using a set of rules for stringing the symbols together to generate additional meaning. Humans use mostly sounds to represent these symbols, although as an Italian I can communicate common meanings by only using a range of hand gestures! We string together phonetic sounds to make words, and we
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5.5 Summary of Section 5

  • The phase of a material is characterised by its physical state (e.g. solid, liquid or gas), a distinctive arrangement of the atoms, and its chemical composition.

  • Material properties can change suddenly as the temperature increases or decreases, corresponding to changes of phase and the degree of order associated with the arrangement of atoms.

  • Shape memory alloys are examples of a wide range of useful engineering materials t
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5.3 Order and chaos

How can we explain a sudden switch of behaviour at a particular temperature? There must be two competing influences (say X and Y) that depend differently on temperature. Figure 23 indicates how a unique temperature (a so-called critical temperature, Tc) arises,
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