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1.2 Expressing ratios

To make short crust pastry, one recipe book says ‘use one part of fat to two parts of flour’; another recipe says ‘use fat and flour in the ratio of one to two’; and yet another says ‘use half as much fat as flour’. These are different ways of expressing the same ratio. Ratios are often expressed as fractions. So in this case:

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Climate change: transitions to sustainability
Human societies have to take urgent action to end their dependences on fossil fuels. We have to alter the whole path of our development and decision making in order to make our societies both environmentally adaptable and sustainable. This free course, Climate change, takes on the task of trying to chart some of the ways in which it might be possible.Author(s): Creator not set

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Transport and sustainability
This free course, Transport and sustainability, explores the issues around sustainable transport and how the role of technology and society can interact to lower the overall impact of transport. First published on Fri, 26 May 2017 as Transport and sus
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Environmental management and organisations
It is believed that environmental management requires action at all levels and by organisations of all types and sizes. However it is not always clear what we mean by environmental management and the role that organisations do and could play. This free course, explores the different interpretations and viewpoints involved by using system thinking to provide a framework with which to better understand environmental management and organisations. Author(s): Creator not set

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Living without oil
Crude oil is currently our most important global source of energy. It is vital in the manufacture of many modern materials. But the worlds supply of oil is finite, its price is unstable and our reliance on oil has damaging environmental consequences. This free course, Living without oil, explains why developing alternatives to oil is an essential and urgent task for humanity. Author(s): Creator not set

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Water for life
Atoms, elements and molecules are the building blocks of everything that makes up our world, including ourselves. In this free course, Water for life, you will learn the basic chemistry of how these components work together, starting with a chemical compound we are all very familiar with water. First published on Wed, 17 Jan 2018 as Author(s): Creator not set

The science of nuclear energy
This free course, The science of nuclear energy, will delve into the science behind nuclear power and explain what happens inside a nuclear reactor and what it means for an element to be radioactive. It will explore some of the risks of producing nuclear power and examine the arguments for and against including it in future energy planning as well as looking at other potential future solutions. Author(s): Creator not set

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2.8 End of course question

Question 12

The writer and campaigner George Monbiot wrote the following (in The Guardian Weekly, 10 February 2000): 'Every time someone in the West switches on a kettle, he or she is helpting to flood Banglades
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2.6 An evolving consensus on attribution

The fact that the Earth really is warming up now commands near-universal support. However, it is one thing to detect a global warming trend that appears to be unprecedented in the past millennium (Subsection 2.2.2), and quite another to establish with a given level of confidence that it has been caused by (i.e. can be attributed to) human activity - specifically, the increase in greenhouse gas concentrations and associated radiative forcing since pre-industrial times (reviewed in Secti
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1.3.4 The role of convection in the atmosphere

We come now to our final refinement to the simple picture in Figure 7. Recall that the troposphere is heated from below, with temperature then falling with increasing altitude. This situation sets the scene for the onset of convection - the bulk flow or circulation of a fluid driven by differences in temperature. Convection in the atmosphere plays a vital role in two further mechanisms - quite apart from the emission of longwave radiation - whereby energy is transferred from the Earth'
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Learning outcomes

After studying this course, you should be able to:

  • understand the physical basis of the natural greenhouse effect, including the meaning of the term radiative forcing

  • know something of the way various human activities are increasing emmissions of the natural greenhouse gases, and are also contributing to sulphate aerosols in the troposphere

  • demonstrate an awareness of the difficulties involved in the detection of any unusual global warming ‘signal
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2.3 Citizens in conversation with nature and experts

Before leaving office in 2008, Sir David King (the ex-Chief Scientific Advisor to the UK Government) introduced an ethical code for scientists. This drew particularly on his experience in working across the scientific–political divide on issues of climate change. The code comprises three attributes of scientific endeavour: rigour, representation and responsibility (Author(s): The Open University

1.5 Conclusion

Throughout this course, a major concern has been to show how the demand of the antisweatshop movement that we not only respond to, but take responsibility for, economic injustices, no matter how distant, is an intensely controversial one. Claims by campaigning groups such as Oxfam and Christian Aid that consumer demand for cheap branded goods perpetuates poverty wage levels in the sweatshop industries are countered by claims from the pro-market lobby which point in an altogether differ
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2.4 Natural science valuation: towards ecological restoration

While the previous two subsections dealt with the social sciences, the ideas of ecology represent more the natural sciences tradition. In the early years of controversy around how to practise sustainable development, some concern was expressed about the perceived bias towards social rather than natural sciences. Bryan Norton (1992), for example, is critical of the social scientific approach. He argues that reliance on standard economic and other social scientific tools will not be enough to e
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2.2 Economic valuation: towards ecological economics

The blue whale could have supplied indefinitely a sustainable yield of 6000 individuals a year.

This is one of the earliest references to sustainability in the literature, taken from the 1971 edition of the science journal Nature (cited in Senge et al., 2006, p. 45). Here, the blue whale is given instrumental value – a means of measuring not the survival of the blue whale for its intrinsic v
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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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Keep on learning

Study another free course

There are more than 800 courses on OpenLearn for you t
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5.3.4 Plan testing and validation

It is one thing to have a plan; it is another thing to have a plan that you can rely on to work. There is an old military maxim that ‘A plan only gets you into first contact with the enemy. After that, you fly by the seat of your pants’ (Anon). A 1993 IBM report on business continuity planning confirmed this when it revealed that ‘half of the plans failed completely or substantially when they were first tested’ (IBM, 1993, p. 5).

The IBM report identified three categories of pla
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5.3.3 Training, education, testing and validation

An audited plan has not been proved to work. It has simply been checked for major omissions. The next stages are to train people in the plan's contents and procedures, and to validate the plan. The relationship between ‘training and education’ and ‘plan validation and testing’ is a bit ambiguous. It could be argued that it is not worth putting a lot of resources into training until the plan has been validated. On the other hand, a plan cannot be properly validated unless the people va
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5.3.2 Plan auditing

Having got the draft plan, it is worth checking it over to see that all the major issues have been covered. The appendix below contains a set of guidelines for the initial audit of a generic ‘general purpose’ plan. For site-specific plans such as might be produced by an SHE manager in industry, or a business continuity manager for an office complex, the headings may need some modification.

Guidelines for an emergency response plan audit (PDF, 2 pages, 0.1MB)

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