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result(s) returned

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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1.3 The influence of environmental ethics: value and care

Religious ethics can play a significant role in shaping appropriate narratives that provide for a lived ethic – that is, the obligations and entitlements associated with human relationships with Nature that embody what’s good and what’s right. But how might other ethical traditions help towards developing a lived ethic? To what extent has the emergence of environmental ethics since the 1970s influenced a lived ethic commensurate with developing care for the environment?

Andrew Lig
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Learning outcomes

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

  • describe environmental matters regarding obligation and entitlements from a ‘caring’ perspective;

  • appreciate the significance of environmental consequentialist ethics in conversations around developing care;

  • identify and compare formal and less formal expressions of environmental responsibility;

  • understand ‘accountability’ in the context of environmental issues;

  • ide
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Introduction

Nature Matters considers environmental responsibility and what may matter from a caring perspective and an accountability perspective. A reading by Andrew Light reflects on four key debates in environmental ethics regarding the way in which nature is valued, and prompts the question on how such debates might inform environmental responsibility.

Section 2 examines the formal processes involved in developing accountability in the context of sustainable development. The persuasiveness of t
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References

Allison, L. (1991) Ecology and Utility: The Philosophical Dilemmas of Planetary Management, Leicester, Leicester University Press.
BBC (2008) ‘The wrong way to a warmer world?’ [online], BBC News, 3 April, http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/programmes/analysis/7328634.stm (accessed 15/4/10).
van den Born, R.J.G. (2008) ‘Rethinking nature: public visions in the Netherlan
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2.1 Conversing with environment

Consider a situation involving what might be regarded as eco-social collapse. For example, the trigger of global warming (caused primarily by use of fossil fuels in developed countries) has encouraged the rapid development of biofuel agriculture through grants from rich countries in the global North to Brazil and other tropical countries in the global South. This has generated both ecological problems (deforestation, pesticide pollution, etc.) and socio-economic problems – particularly with
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1.2 Connecting human and non-human nature

Environmental responsibility – caring and generating accountability – requires interaction between human and non-human nature. For example, from a caring perspective what matters in climate change might constitute, say, the continued existence and protection of an arctic wilderness (Figure 3). But this necessarily involves a conne
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Learning outcomes

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

  • appreciate different connotations and traditions of the terms ‘nature’ and ‘environment’ in the context of environmental responsibility;

  • use conversation as a core metaphor for describing ‘what matters’ in environmental responsibility;

  • identify and compare formal and less formal expressions of environmental responsibility.


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7.4 Closing thoughts

Of course, doing anything about this needs scientific evidence and understanding, but it also requires social, economic and technological changes, which can only be achieved through political will. If you want to explore some of the broader context, a good place to start would be the New Internationalist issue 357, ‘The Big Switch: Climate Change Solutions’ at New Internationalist.

Faced with the sort of predictions climatologists are making, is it sufficient for science teac
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7.3 Running the models forward

What happens when the models are run forward? It depends upon the models used and the scenarios they are asked to run. It seems almost certain, however, that there will be increases in the global mean surface temperature, to the order of +1.5 to +4.5 °C (– possibly more, according to some models and scenarios.

These changes are predicted to be associated with increases in sea level, changes to weather conditions (e.g. more regular and violent winter storms in the UK) and changes to t
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7.2 Comparing modelled and observed temperature

The IPCC comparison between modelled and observed temperatures since the year 1860 is shown in the three charts below

Figure 2
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7.1 Climate models

To understand climate change it is necessary to construct climate models, to explore and predict interactions between different factors. Models are tested for accuracy against known sets of data, before being run forward to predict future changes.


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4 Further reading

For information on changes to flora, click on Science magazine.

For changes to fauna, and economic effects, go to Information Sheet 4, or for the paper quoted at the top of the screen, Information Sheet 1, both at Climatic Research Unit.

Click on 'View document' to open the data-smoothing information

4.5 The Kew Gardens Millennium Seed Bank Appeal

Cover from the Kew Gardens Millennium Seed Bank Appeal leaflet.
Figure 6 Cover from the Kew Gardens Millennium Seed Bank Appeal leaflet

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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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Acknowledgements

The material acknowledged below is Proprietary, used under licence and not subject to Creative Commons licensing (see terms and conditions). Grateful acknowledgement is made to the following:

Figure 1/Unit Image © John Isaac/Still Pictures

Figure 2 © Ian Hodgson/Reuters/Popperfoto

Figure 3 © PA Photos

Figure 4 © Accent Alaska

Figure 5 © Tony Bennets/Lonely Planet Images

Figure 6 © Bryan & Cherry Alexander Photography


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6.2 The hierarchy of human needs

A second approach is to look at the human needs and wants from a more theoretical perspective. One such model was developed in the 1950s and 1960s by Abraham Maslow. Although it exists in many variants it is generally known as Maslow's hierarchy of human needs. In the most common interpretations it places the fundamental material needs of survival, such as food, shelter and safety at the base of a triangle, rising through social needs of belonging in human society, to
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4.6 Global climate change continued

Box 3: Some impacts of global climate change

Record global temperatures

The global mean surface temperature of our planet has been rising steadily for 30 years. According to climate scientists, who have constructed a reliable global temperature series from 1860, nine of the ten warmest
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2.4 Changing environmental attitudes

So, from the start of the Industrial Revolution, people have been aware that the development of an industrial economy brings problems as well as benefits. But the benefits, in terms of productive capability, mobility, convenience, cheap consumer goods, and profits, were usually felt to outweigh the disadvantages, particularly by those in positions of power. Many of the accompanying negative factors, such as poverty and unemployment, or the creation of more destructive machines of war, if they
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