Technology, Humans, and Society:: Toward a Sustainable World / Edition 1

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Overview

The concept of a sustainable world rests squarely on a global framework for economic vitality, environmental quality, and social justice. The means of building, organizing, and operating within such a framework depends on sound decisions, responsible actions, appropriate technologies, and thoughtful governments. This book addresses the issues that illuminate a pathway to a sustainable world.
Technology, Humans, and Society is directed towards the scientist, business person, engineer, manager, governmental regulator, lawmaker, environmentalist or citizen concerned with the future of the world. Included in this book are additional contributions and readings from highly qualified authors with backgrounds in sustainable technologies, environmental studies, business and government.
Technology, Humans, and Society:
* enables business and engineering leaders to plan and implement a business practice that leads to an environmental social and economic balance that will result in profitable growth
* helps engineers and managers to build sustainable products and services that will be successful in the marketplace
* describes the critical matters of natural resources and the related technologies to process and transmit energy, materials, water, and wastes
* discusses sustainable agricultural systems that can adequately provide food while nurturing the earth
* describes the design of sustainable transportation systems
* considers the role of performance indicators for tracking quality of life and measures of progress and prosperity
* addresses sustainable architecture and buildings

Audience: Engineers and technology and business managers.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"... My compliments for your work in developing Technology, Humans, and Society. I am excited to know that some of us on the technology side are willing to help bridge the gap between the demands of business/technology and the vital long term issues of social and environmental responsibility. Hopefully, your text will find its way into undergraduate engineering and business curricula... the next generation is our best hope for establishing a balanced and sustainable world."
--Ron Mascitelli, President of Technology Perspectives and author of the forthcoming book, Building a Project-Driven Enterprise

"Making all the information of this book available in one place is a significant service. One hopes that the issue of sustainability will be debated widely in the next few years. At the very least, Technology, Humans, and Society will give people the fundamental knowledge and the vocabulary to make that debate meaningful."
--Barrett Hazeltine, Lehigh University's Science, Technology & Society Newsletter

"... My compliments for your work in developing Technology, Humans, and Society. I am excited to know that some of us on the technology side are willing to help bridge the gap between the demands of business/technology and the vital long term issues of social and environmental responsibility. Hopefully, your text will find its way into undergraduate engineering and business curricula... the next generation is our best hope for establishing a balanced and sustainable world." --Ron Mascitelli, President of Technology Perspectives and author of the forthcoming book, Building a Project-Driven Enterprise

From The Critics
Directed towards scientists, business people, engineers, lawmakers, and environmentalists, this work addresses issues essential to a sustainable world and encourages business and engineering leaders to implement practices that lead to environmental, social, and economic balance. After suggesting a framework for organizing a sustainable future, the book describes critical matters of natural resources and the related technologies to process and transmit energy, materials, water, and wastes, then turns to ideas for the creation of sustainable agricultural and transportation systems and considers the role of performance indicators for tracking quality of life and measuring prosperity. Dorf is professor of electrical and computer engineering and management at the University of California-Davis. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780122210907
  • Publisher: Elsevier Science
  • Publication date: 2/6/2001
  • Series: Sustainable World Series
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 500
  • Product dimensions: 1.13 (w) x 7.00 (h) x 10.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Richard C. Dorf is a Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering and a Professor of Management at the University of California, Davis. Professor Dorf has extensive experience in education, industry and government. He has served as an advisor to numerous firms, financial institutions and governmental agencies. He is also the author/editor of numerous books including; Modern Control Systems 9th edition, Prentice-Hall; Introduction to Electrical Circuits, 5th edition, Wiley; The Electrical Engineering Handbook, 2nd edition, CRC Press; The Engineering Handbook and The Technology Management Handbook, CRC Press.
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Read an Excerpt

Chapter 1.1 Sustainability

Perhaps the most discussed question of the year 2000 is whether the human species will survive the new millennium. The pace of global population growth, rampant air and pollution in the developing world, and the limited resolve of the United States to lead the environmental revolution it fostered may spell significant trouble for the quality of human existence. Social forces have been set in motion such as the desire for electricity, telephones, automobiles, and clean water. Once humans experience these things, they want more of them, regardless of the ecological cost.

The list of possible solutions to environmental degradation includes improving technology, using resources more efficiently, minimizating waste, and even shifting taxes to penalize pollution. But these solutions are bogged down in disputes.

Sustainability of the world depends on the interaction between economic activity and the natural environment. Economic activity affects the natural environment and, vice versa, the state of the natural environment affects economic activity. In addition, the level of human impact on the natural environment is now such that its capacity to support future economic activity at the level required by the expected human population and its aspirations is in question.The resulting issues are characterized by ignorance and uncertainty. The human impact on the environment is now such that global responses are necessary. However, the sustainability problem is quite complex.

The emerging challenge is to develop a sustainable global economy: an econonry that the earth is capable of supporting indefinitely.The depletion of natural resources and increasing pollution may overcome the planet's capabilities. In meeting our current needs, we may be destroying the ability of future generations to meet their needs.

Many of the proposed approaches to sustainability seem utopian or ideological, feasible only on a small scale. Many fail to address the underlying changes in the economy that are at the root of our most complex social and environmental problems.

Several definitions of a sustainable economy are provided in Table 1.1. The key idea of sustainability is the power to maintain and support future generations without compromising their quality of life.

Perhaps the most complete and useful definition is provided by Italy, who states that sustainable economy is attained when (Daly, 1996): Rates of use of renewable resources do not exceed regeneration rates; rates of use of nonrenewable resources do not exceed rates of development of renewable substitutes; rates of pollution emission do not exceed assimilative capacities of the environment.

The concept of a sustainable economy provides a framework for dis- cussing problems and solutions.The concept is rooted in the hypothesis that economic viability, environmental duality, and social justice are interrelated in complex ways. It suggests that achieving any one of these outcomes requires attention in some way to all three. Controversy revolves around exactly how these areas of concern can be joined and, for that matter, whether they even can be. Sonic avoid the inherent tensions between the three broad issues by retreating to the primary concerns of their particular discipline and limiting consideration of the other factors. Some environ- mentalists, for example, talk of sustainability as an ecological concept with reduced concern for economic demands or social needs. Some entrepre- neurs see tremendous business opportunities in consumer demand foi- green ""products without fully acknowledging the potential environmental or social impacts of expanded consumption. Furthermore, some social ser- vice advocates still sec environmental concerns as a luxury that must be deferred until the more desperate needs of the poor are provided for. The important sources of environmental thought are religious tradition, Malthusian economics, and environmental planning. Many religious traditions identify humankind within nature, whereas Judeo-Christian tradition is often seen as promoting exploitation or alternatively stewardship of nature. Malthusian economics portrays the spiraling population growth as one that will eventually outstrip the earth's resource base. Famine and ecological ruin are the specters that haunt this view of human development. Although Malthus's most dire forecasts have not been realized, the idea underlying his theory permeates much thinking about population limits and resource conservation...

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Table of Contents

1. Sustainability, Economics and the Environment
2. Business
3. Science, Technology and Progress
4. Sustainable and Appropriate Technologies
5. Business and Technology Methods
6. Engineering Design and Innovation
7. Business and the Corporation
8. Financial Costs Issues in Sustainable Business and Government
9. Energy, Environment, Economy and Society
10. Coal
11. Petroleum and Natural Gas
12. Electric Energy
13. Nuclear Power
14. Renewable Energy
15. Wind and Solar Energy
16. Biomass, Geothermal Energy and Energy Storage
17. Natural Resources and Waste Systems
18. Agriculture, Biotechnology and Resources
19. Materials and Manufacturing
20. Transportation Systems
21. Electric and Hybrid Vehicles
22. Fuel Cells and Hydrogen Economy
23. Corporate Performance Indicators
24. Social Entrepreneurship and Investing
25. Buildings, the Internet and the Future of a Sustainable World
Index
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Preface

The sustainability of the world depends on the interaction between economic activity and the natural environment. Economic activity is organized by government and business to provide humankind with food, shelter, and other human necessities such as health, security, and mobility The concept of a sustainable world must rest squarely on a global framework for economic vitality, environmental quality, and social justice. The means of building, organizing, and operating within such a global framework depend on sound decisions, responsible actions, appropriate technologies, and thoughtful governments. The purpose of this book is to address the issues that illuminate a pathway to a sustainable world.

This book is written for the reader who wishes to address the issues of sustainability with consideration of the environmental, social, and economic issues. Thus, the book is directed toward the scientist, businessperson, engineer, manager, governmental regulator, lawmaker, environmentalist, or citizen who is concerned with the future of our world. With the assistance of highly qualified contributors, we strive in this volume to address a broad array of matters and provide a framework that could lead to a sustainable world.

We recognize the various filters that business, technology, science, and society at large bring to the issues. Nevertheless, we attempt to describe the foundations of science, technology, and economies that might, if appropriately organized, lead to a sustainable future.

After suggesting a framework for organizing a sustainable future, we then turn to a description of the critical matters of natural resources and the related technologies to process and transmit energy, materials, water, and wastes. Then we turn to the critical matter of creating a sustainable agricultural system that can adequately feed the world while nurturing the earth.

The design of a sustainable transportation system that enables mobility with limited impact on the world's air and land is a challenge addressed in several dimensions. Next, we consider the role of performance indicators for tracking quality of life and measures of progress and prosperity. Social entrepreneurship is one means of providing leverage arising from human creativity applied to social needs. We then address the matter of architecture and buildings and present several visions for the future. Finally, we summarize the potential for a sustainable future and reinforce our hope that, with sound methods and understanding, we can successfully travel the path toward a sustainable world.

I thank the contributors to this volume, whose thoughtful insights provide the reader with a solid foundation for thinking about the need to incorporate sustainability into all aspects of daily life. I also wish to acknowledge the exemplary assistance of my editor, Joel Claypool, and the skilled production team of Julio Esperas and Lorretta Palagi.

Davis, California
December 2000

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 25, 2001

    Balancing Big Business, Economics and the Environment

    How can we have a strong economy and thriving big businesses at the same time that we protect the environment and human health? This books explains how we can have the best of both these worlds through the use of new technologies that will allow us to enjoy an environmentally sustainable and yet economically viable future. If you generally interested in the field of sustainable business/development, this book can help you to better understand the many interesting aspects and opportunities of this field. Or, if you are already fairly knowledge on matters of the environment, technology or business, this book can provide you with some interesting, in-depth information as well. Of particular interest in this book is the chapter about the promising new technology of fuel cell vehicles entitled Fuel Cell Vehicles: Big Business, Fast Cars and Clean Air. This chapter presents a gripping, informative, and even entertainment account of how the field of sustainable business practices can offer something to everyone. Business people, investors, and environmentalist alike will find this book to be a valuable insight into the opportunites that sustainable development can provide.

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