Supply-side Sustainability

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Columbia University Press, 2003 - Science - 459 pages
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While environmentalists insist that lower rates of consumption of natural resources are essential for a sustainable future, many economists dismiss the notion that resource limits act to constrain modern, creative societies. The conflict between these views tinges political debate at all levels and hinders our ability to plan for the future.

Supply-Side Sustainability offers a fresh approach to this dilemma by integrating ecological and social science approaches in an interdisciplinary treatment of sustainability. Written by two ecologists and an anthropologist, this book discusses organisms, landscapes, populations, communities, biomes, the biosphere, ecosystems and energy flows, as well as patterns of sustainability and collapse in human societies, from hunter-gatherer groups to empires to today's industrial world. These diverse topics are integrated within a new framework that translates the authors' advances in hierarchy and complexity theory into a form useful to professionals in science, government, and business.

The result is a much-needed blueprint for a cost-effective management regime, one that makes problem-solving efforts themselves sustainable over time. The authors demonstrate that long-term, cost-effective resource management can be achieved by managing the contexts of productive systems, rather than by managing the commodities that natural systems produce.

 

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Contents

The Nature of the Problem
1
COMPLEXITY PROBLEM SOLVING AND SOCIAL SUSTAINABILITY
53
Experience
99
The Criteria for Observation and Modeling
167
Biomes and the Biosphere
284
Ecosystems Energy Flows Evolution and Emergence
320
Retrospect and Prospects
380
References
427
Index
451
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About the author (2003)

Timothy F. H. Allen is a professor of botany at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. Joseph Tainter is a project leader at the Rocky Mountain Research Station in the USDA Forest Service in Albuquerque. Thomas W. Hoekstra is director of the Inventory and Monitoring Institute of the National Resources Research Center of the USDA Forest Service.

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