Supply-Side Sustainability

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Overview

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.

Columbia University Press

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Editorial Reviews

Int'l Journal of Sustainable Development & World Economy

This is undoubtedly the most thought-provoking book on sustainability that has appeared so far.

Choice

Sustainability does not emerge just from activities such as recycling or conserving biodiversity; it requires problem solving. This, too, costs more and more for ever-smaller amounts of information, but Allen (botany, Univ. of Wisconsin, Madison) and Tainter and Hoekstra (both, USDA Forest Service) offer recommendations for reducing costs... the importance of how a society can become sustainable makes the effort vital.

British Ecological Society

Using a very wide range of examples from ecology and social history, the authors seek to show how supply-side sustainability works in both social and ecological situations. The mix of disciplines encountered here is intellectually fertile, the social and the ecological inputs illuminating one another effectively and together producing a unified approach to a complex problem.

Quarterly Review of Biology
[A] thoughtful book that reviews historical topics associated with sustainability, presents model cases of sustainable or nonsustainable future,s outlines important principles associated with ecological management of material systems, and the theoretical approaches to manage them. It will appeal to a broad audience seeking solutions to these daunting problems.

— Clive A. Edwards

International Journal of Sustainable Development & World Economy
This is undoubtedly the most thought-provoking book on sustainability that has appeared so far.
Quarterly Review of Biology - Clive A. Edwards

[A] thoughtful book that reviews historical topics associated with sustainability, presents model cases of sustainable or nonsustainable future,s outlines important principles associated with ecological management of material systems, and the theoretical approaches to manage them. It will appeal to a broad audience seeking solutions to these daunting problems.

Choice

Sustainability does not emerge just from activities such as recycling or conserving biodiversity; it requires problem solving. This, too, costs more and more for ever-smaller amounts of information, but Allen (botany, Univ. of Wisconsin, Madison) and Tainter and Hoekstra (both, USDA Forest Service) offer recommendations for reducing costs... the importance of how a society can become sustainable makes the effort vital.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780231105873
  • Publisher: Columbia University Press
  • Publication date: 2/12/2003
  • Series: Complexity in Ecological Systems Series
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 440
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

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.

Columbia University Press

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Table of Contents

PrefaceComplexity, Problem Solving, and Social SustainabilityThe Nature of the ProblemA Hierarchical Approach to Ecological SustainabilityComplexity and Social Sustainability: FrameworkComplexity and Social Sustainability: ExperienceThe Criteria for Observation and ModelingBiomes and the BiosphereEcosystems, Energy Flows, Evolution, and EmergenceRetrospect and Prospects

Columbia University Press

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