4.4.1 Partnerships for sustainable consumption

Moderate NGOs, progressive businesses and government all have a stake in seeing roundtable partnerships come up with practical steps that can bring sustainability closer. One area that has attracted the attention of all these players is consumption. Directing or limiting consumption is politically difficult for even the NGOs to promote. Similarly, ‘voluntary simplicity’ of the sort lived at Findhorn eco-village (Author(s): The Open University

4.4 Signing everyone up to sustainability

The proposers of step-by-step progress towards sustainability would include in their plans many of the ideas proposed in the previous two subsections. However, what distinguishes this group is that they stand in the middle of the scale between faith in unfettered business voluntarism and a conviction that radical transformations are required. Their incrementalism is reflected in the kinds of pragmatic solutions they propose; their radicalism shows in the way they think about new roles and pro
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4.3.1 Ecological tax reforms

Communities such as Findhorn already behave as if natural resources need careful management: they work hard to reduce fossil fuel use. A central assumption of this way of thinking is that people need to root economies more locally (Figure 15). To see the same impulse spread through the mainstream economy would require that th
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3.3.3 Obligations to trees?

Citizenship is generally held to be based on a contractual view, where rights and obligations are balanced. In other words, you get various rights in return for your commitment to live by your society's rules and expectations. Political philosopher Andrew Dobson suggests that ecological citizenship is based in a non-reciprocal sense of justice or compassion. The discussion of our relationships with past and future generations in Section 5.2 establishes that our obligations to future generatio
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4.3 Technical and behavioural actions

The numbers generated by the carbon calculator use a computer model based on some of the best information available. However, as I mentioned earlier, the results are not exact because calculators typically require you to enter broad categories of information about yourself and your household. And there are always uncertainties about some of the data on which the calculator is based. Nevertheless, the calculator allows you to explore the important actions needed to lighten your carbon load and
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4.2 Carbon reduction targets

Let's now look at carbon footprint reduction targets in a bit more detail.

The first international agreement to set carbon reduction targets was the 1997 United Nations Kyoto Protocol, which requires developed countries to reduce their human-generated greenhouse gas emissions by an average of just over 5% on 1990 levels by 2008 to 2012. By the time the treaty came into force in 2005, only the USA and Australia had refused to sign. (A new Australian government finally signe
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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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2.2.4 Identifying the carbon heavyweights

I've focused on two studies of the carbon footprint of UK individuals and households, but there are many others (e.g. WWF, 2006; Goodall, 2007 and Marshall, 2007a).


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2.8 End of unit 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 Bangladesh’. What is th
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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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Acknowledgements

Grateful acknowledgement is made to the following sources for permission to reproduce material in this unit:

The content acknowledged below is Proprietary and used under licence (not subject to Creative Commons licence). See Terms and Conditions.

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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2.2 Environmental pragmatism: positioning expert support

I believe that the principal task for an environmental pragmatism is not to reengage the … debates in environmental ethics but rather to impress upon environmental philosophers the need to take up the largely empirical question of what morally motivates humans to change their attitudes, behaviours, and policy preferences toward those more supportive of long-term environmental sustainability.

(Light, 2002, p. 446)


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1.4.2 Engaging with multiple perspectives

A systems approach begins when first you see the world through the eyes of another.

(Churchman, 1968, p. 231)

The Ulrich reading is an extract from an article written in honour of another systems philosopher, C. West Churchman. Also drawing on Churchman's influence, Jake Chapman sums up two qualities of systems thinking in terms of ‘gaining a bigger picture (going up a level of abstraction) a
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1.1 Framing nature using language tools

By framing, I mean the structures and pre-assumptions that we consciously or unconsciously apply to a situation in order to make sense of it. So are there any differences between the way in which we frame nature in caring for environment and the way in which we frame it to provide accountability? What significance might this have, and what tools might be used to bridge the responsibilities of caring and accountability?

Caring for environment makes manifest the informal aspects o
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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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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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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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References

Broham, J. (1996) ‘Postwar development in the Asian NICs: does the neoliberal model fit reality?’, Economic Geography, vol.72, pp. 107–30.
Castree, N., Coe, N.M., Ward, K. and Samers, M. (2004) Spaces of Work: Global Capitalism and Geographies of Labour, London, Sage.

1.5 Conclusion

Throughout this unit, 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 differen
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1.4.3 It's all down to connections

For Iris Marion Young, the responsibility of those in North America and Europe towards distant others does indeed rest with their connections to injustices elsewhere, but it would be a mistake to stretch this line of reasoning too far. Although these connections, whether as a consumer, boardroom executive or shop manager, can establish a line of responsibility, as was claimed in Section 3.1, for Young this is only the starting point and not the end point of our involvement. We do not have to
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