1st Edition

Ecological Sustainability
Understanding Complex Issues

ISBN 9781138077072
Published October 12, 2017 by CRC Press
548 Pages 14 Color & 98 B/W Illustrations

USD $84.95

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Book Description

Complex Systems is a new field of science studying how parts of a system give rise to the collective behaviors of the system, and how the system interacts with its environment. This book examines the complex systems involved in environmental sustainability, and examines the technologies involved to help mitigate human impacts, such as renewable energy, desalination, carbon capture, recycling, etc. It considers the relationships and balance between environmental engineering and science, economics, and human activity, with regard to sustainability.

Table of Contents

Human Ecological Sustainability


Is It Possible to Model Human Ecological Sustainability?

Why Human Sustainability Is a Complex Issue

Chapter Summary

Review of Complexity and Complex Systems

Introduction to Complexity

Human Responses to Complexity

Signal Flow Graphs and Mason’s Rule


Chapter Summary

Multidimensional Challenges to Human Sustainability


The Challenge of Population Growth

Global Warming

Water and Sustainability

Bees, Pollination, and Food Crops

Species Size Reduction Due to Habitat Warming: Another Challenge to Our Food Supply

FF Energy and Sustainability

Chapter Summary

Mitigations of Human Impacts through Technology




Carbon-Free Energy Sources

Carbon-Neutral Energy Sources

Energy Storage Means

Fusion Power

Nuclear Energy

Carbon Capture and Storage

Water Vapor

Engineering Energy Efficiency

Chapter Summary

Sustainable Agriculture


Animal Husbandry: Concentrated Animal Feeding


Industrial Agriculture

Loss of Genetic Diversity

Genetically Modified Organisms

Sustainable Agriculture

Can Sustainable Agriculture Feed the World?

Competition for Cropland

Chapter Summary

Unconventional Foods: Insects, Plankton, Fungi, and In Vitro Meat


Nutritional Value of Insects

Can Insects Be Farmed?

Plankton as a Source of Human Food

Fungi: Food and More

Food from Tissue Culture Using Animal Stem Cells

Chapter Summary

Complex Economic Systems and Sustainability

Introduction to Economic Systems

Basic Economics; Steady-State S&D

Introduction to ABMs and Simulations of Economic and Other Complex Systems

Economic Challenges to Human Sustainability

Chapter Summary

Application of Complex Systems Thinking to Solve Ecological Sustainability Problems


Dörner’s Approaches to Tackling Complex Problems

Frederic Vester’s "Paper Computer"

Sensitivity Model of Vester

Can We Learn From Our Mistakes?

Chapter Summary

What Will Happen to Us? FAQs on Sustainability


Will Technology Sustain Us?

FAQs Concerning Sustainability

Chapter Summary


Bibliography and Recommended Reading


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Robert B. Northrop, majored in electrical engineering (EE) at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), graduating with a bachelor’s degree. At the University of Connecticut (UCONN), he received a master’s degree in systems engineering. He entered a PhD program at UCONN in physiology, and received his PhD in 1964. Dr. Northrop’s research interests have been broad, interdisciplinary, and centered on biomedical engineering and physiology. His current interest lies in complex systems. Dr. Northrop was on the electrical and computer engineering faculty at UCONN until his retirement in June 1997. As emeritus professor, he still teaches graduate courses in biomedical engineering.

Anne N. Connor, MA, is currently working as the director of community grants for Methodist Healthcare Ministries, a medical nonprofit organization in San Antonio, TX. Her educational background includes a bachelor’s degree from Dartmouth College, where she received honor citations in chemistry and sociology. Her master’s degree in communications is from the University of New Mexico at Albuquerque. She is the coauthor of Introduction to Molecular Biology, Genomics and Proteomics for Biomedical Engineers (Taylor & Francis/CRC Press, ISBN # 1420061194). She has received numerous awards for her work, most recently a humanitarian award from the San Antonio health care community.


"In this time of narrow specialization, the authors have provided a remarkably broad synthesis of the biophysical factors that support human sustainability."
––Joseph A. Tainter, Department of Environment and Society, Utah State University