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2.2 Records of the Earth's temperature

To put the temperature records reported by the IPCC in context, we start with a longer-term geological perspective on the Earth's GMST.


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1.7 Summary

  1. Figure 12 summarises the ways in which the Earth's surface and atmosphere gain and lose energy. The main points are as follows:

     

    • A proportion (the planetary albedo) of the incoming shortwave radiation from the Sun is reflected (or scattered) directly back to space, mainly by clouds and the Earth's surface (especially snow and ice cover), but also by aerosols (e.g. dust, salt particles, etc.). Most of the re
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1.1 Introduction

At the beginning of the 21st century, terms such as the ‘greenhouse effect’, ‘greenhouse gases’ and ‘greenhouse warming’ are printed or spoken thousands of times a week in the context of climate change caused by human activities. This section is designed to consolidate your understanding of the basic science behind these terms, and then to review what is known about the human impact on the composition of the atmosphere since the dawn of the industrial age, commonly put (in this co
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Learning outcomes

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

  • understand why systems thinking might be useful and know something about how it can be applied in the context of environmental responsibility;

  • describe the significance of environmental pragmatism and cognitive justice as tools for supporting environmental policy and action.


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1.3.8 Summary of section

  • During the 1970s and 1980s, countries such as Hong Kong, Singapore and Taiwan benefited from their low-cost advantages in the new global division of labour. Now, however, the gap between rich and poor nations is wider and competition in the world economy greater, prompting campaigning groups to argue that contemporary low-wage economies do not have the options for economic development that their predecessors had.

  • In the face of market fragment
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4.5 Sustainability of renewable energy sources

Renewable energy sources are generally sustainable in the sense that they cannot ‘run out’ – although, as noted above, both biomass and geothermal energy need wise management if they are to be used sustainably. For all of the other renewables, almost any realistic rate of exploitation by humans would be unlikely to approach their rate of replenishment by nature, though of course the use of all renewables is subject to various practical constraints.

Renewable energies are also rela
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2.4.1 The emergence of ecology

To help you gain a better perspective on the general progress of scientific development, Table 4 provides a schematic potted history of some of the major ideas coming from science that have sought to guide our actions. It includes both social and natural sciences, though the former really only became distinct ‘science
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2.1 Accounting for the consequences of environmental harm

The ethical tradition of consequentialism informs not only what matters from the perspective of caring for the environment, but also what matters from the perspective of accountability towards it. In eighteenth-century Europe, the actual environmental consequences of rapid economic development, triggered by the industrial revolutions taking place at that time, prompted an increasing concern for accountability. The most evident expression of this came with ideas of sustainable development
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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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5.3.2 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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3.1 Types of incident

Now we can progress to an examination of some incidents by studying selected reports and publications.

Returning to the word ‘accident’, we can cite another definition:

An accident is an undesired event which results in physical harm and/or property damage. It usually results from a contact with a source of energy above the threshold limit of the body or structure.

(Kuhlman, 1977, p. 5)


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8 Summary

  • We are biologically predisposed to provide for our offspring and may try to ensure that this provision continues after our death. However, our interactions with other members of society are wide-ranging and many people leave legacies to benefit the wider community.

  • All species alter their environment to some extent because they do not live in isolation from one another. The study of the interactions between plants, animals and their environ
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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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Introduction

This unit is from our archive and it is an adapted extract from Human biology and health (SK220), which is no longer in presentation. If you wish to study formally at The Open University, you may wish to explore the courses we offer in this curriculum area.

To be able to understand the importance of the environment for our health, we need to know a little about the interdepende
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Introduction

Global warming: are we responsible? Is our environmental impact damaging the planet? This unit examines the use of ozone depleting technology, the impact of fossil fuel use and explores how the development of technology can influence the direction of a society. From the Industrial Revolution to the present day find out how we have changed the planet.

This unit is from our archive and is an adapted extract from Working with our environment: technology for a sustainable future (T172) whic
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6.2 Some general features of communitarianism and cosmopolitanism

There are two very different and sharply contrasting views about how the international arena can be theorised, should be organised and can be described. One side sees the international sphere as made up of a plurality of interacting cultures with incommensurable values, while the other side deploys general concepts of rights and applies these to humanity as a whole. These two constructions rest upon very different views of what human beings are, and how they do and should interact together.
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6.1 Introduction

The international level can be viewed as an arena of politics in its own right and not just as a context for states and other actors. If we think of the international world in this way, how should relations between states, and other actors on the international stage, be constructed? To what extent should those relations be regulated? We can ask whether relations between states, and states' policy making, should be dictated by allegedly universally shared human rights principles, or by other o
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1 International human rights: an introduction

There are many examples of claims for rights in the international sphere.

One example was reported in September 2002. The British government was asked to make efforts to have a British man held by the Americans at Guantanamo Bay deported to Britain to face charges of terrorism there in connection with the attacks on 11 September 2001. Concerns were expressed about the denial of this man's human rights at Guantanamo Bay. Are alleged terrorists entitled to human rights? Can the denial of
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3.2 Migrations of life

As biologist and pioneer environmentalist Rachel Carson once wrote: ‘the stocking of the islands has been accomplished by the strangest migration in earth's history – a migration that began long before man appeared on earth and is still continuing’ (Carson, 1953, p. 66). Austronesian voyagers may have been the first people to venture far into open water, but many other species, as Carson suggests, have also found ways of negotiating passages across the ocean. Arriving at pockets of land
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1 Dividing the planet

A good globe can set you back quite a lot of money. Of course, I don't mean the little moulded plastic planets or the globes you can blow up as if the world were a beach ball, but the decent sized ones that sit solidly on turned wooden bases and quietly emanate authority from the corner of a room. Yet these days, it hardly seems worthwhile making such an investment. Countries appear to change their colour, their shape or their name with remarkable rapidity.

It has become a cliché to po
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