Food, water and energy form some of the basic elements of sustainability considerations. This ground-breaking book examines and decodes these elements, exploring how a range of countries make decisions regarding their energy and bio-resource consumption and procurement. The authors consider how these choices impact not only the societies and environments of those countries, but the world in general. To achieve this, the authors review the merits of various sustainability and environmental metrics, and then apply these to 34 countries that are ranked low, medium or high on the human development index. The book assesses their resource capacities and the environmental impacts, both within and outside their country boundaries, from consuming food, water, and energy. The final section uses the lessons derived from the earlier analyses of resource consumption to explore the importance of geography, climates and sustainable management of forests and other natural resources for building resilient societies in the future.
'What is 'sustainability'? Taking a comprehensive yet simple approach, this book discusses the inter-linking and complex elements of sustainability and how they influence and are influenced by our society when it comes to making decisions about resource use. A must-read book for everyone interested in conservation, the environment and development.' – Dicky P. Simorangkir, Forest Program Director, The Nature Conservancy, Indonesia
'A foundational reader that is encyclopedic in its scope and consideration of data to advance an analytical lens to plan and implement sustainable development that meets both the real-world tests of pessimists and ambitions of optimists.' – Steve Rhee, AAAS (American Association for the Advancement of Science) Science and Technology Fellow, US State Department (2007-9)
"In order to ‘‘think like an ecosystem’’ the book draws on a wide range of examples and metrics from past and present societies. It considers how societies collapsed or survived in the past as well as exploring nine indices pertinent to sustainability from 34 different countries … The book makes a contribution to the literature through this ambitious attempt to pick apart sustainability with real life examples." – Orla Shortall, Agriculture and Human Values
PART 1: From the Beginning 1. Sustainability - Clues for Positive Societal and Ecosystem Change 2. Learning From the Past: Why Societies Collapsed or Survived PART 2: Scientific Approach to Decoding Sustainability 3. Today: Decoding Country Resource Stories PART 3: The Real Country Stories 4. Fossil Energy Endowments and Externalities 5. Forests - the Backbone and Circulatory System for Human Societies 6. The Soil and Water Connection to Food: Adapt, Mitigate, or Die PART 4. Climate and Soils: Unavoidable Constraints To Solar Capital 7. The Future: Climate Change as a Global Driver Impacting Sustainability 8. Where the Past and Future meet: Soils or the Unseen Earth that Nurtures Societies 9. The Ultimate Constraint to Human Sustainability: Solar Income PART 5. Societies Adapt To a Quagmire of Resource Choices 10. Debunking Sustainability Myths 11. Portfolio for Managing Natural and Human Capital 12. Sustainable Ecosystems: Investments in Human and Natural Capital References