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Wasted World: How Our Consumption Challenges the Planet
     

Wasted World: How Our Consumption Challenges the Planet

by Rob Hengeveld
 

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ISBN-10: 0226326993

ISBN-13: 2900226326992

Pub. Date: 04/15/2012

Publisher: University of Chicago Press

All systems produce waste as part of a cycle—bacteria, humans, combustion engines, even one as large and complex as a city. To some extent, this waste can be absorbed, processed, or recycled—though never completely. In Wasted World, Rob Hengeveld reveals how a long history of human consumption has left our world drowning in this waste.
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Overview

All systems produce waste as part of a cycle—bacteria, humans, combustion engines, even one as large and complex as a city. To some extent, this waste can be absorbed, processed, or recycled—though never completely. In Wasted World, Rob Hengeveld reveals how a long history of human consumption has left our world drowning in this waste.
This is a compelling and urgent work that traces the related histories of population growth and resource consumption. As Hengeveld explains, human life (and population growth) depends not only on mineral resources but also on energy. People first obtained energy from food and later supplemented this with energy from water, wind, and animals as one source after another fell short of our ever-growing needs. Finally, we turned to fossil energy, which generates atmospheric waste that is the key driver of global climate change. The effects of this climate change are already leading to food shortages and social collapse in some parts of the world. Because all of these problems are interconnected, Hengeveld argues strenuously that measures to counter individual problems cannot work. Instead, we need to tackle their common cause—our staggering population growth. While many scientists agree that population growth is one of the most critical issues pressuring the environment, Hengeveld is unique in his insistence on turning our attention to the waste such growth leaves in its wake and to the increasing demands of our global society.
            A practical look at the sustainability of our planet from the perspective of a biologist whose expertise is in the abundances and distributions of species, Wasted World presents a fascinating picture of the whole process of using, wasting, and exhausting energy and material resources. And by elucidating the complexity of the causes of our current global state, Hengeveld offers us a way forward.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
2900226326992
Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
Publication date:
04/15/2012
Pages:
360

Table of Contents

Introduction

PART 1. NATURAL PROCESSES
1. The Nature of Life: Making Waste
2. Nature Goes in Cycles

PART 2. ONGOING PROCESSES IN THE HUMAN POPULATION
I. Population Growth and Its Limitations
A. The Growing Problem of Mankind
3. Population Growth and Agricultural Production
4. Population Growth and Industrial Production
5. Agribusiness and Corporate States
B. Exhausting and Wasting Our Resources
6. Peak Oil and Beyond
7. Limited Resources
8. Man-Made Waste
9. When It’s Gone, It’s Gone
C. Exhausting and Wasting Our Environment
10. Our Freshwater Is Running Out!
11. Polluting the Air and Warming Our Climate
12. Deforestation and Its Consequences
13. The Loss of Biodiversity
14. Wasted Land
II. Toward A Collapse of Our Society
D. Processes within the Human Population
15. What Is Overpopulation?
16. Bursting Out of Eden
17. Urbanization
18. Migration
19. The Spread of Diseases
20. The Dynamic Structure of Society
E. Processes within the Global Society
21. From a Concrete to an Abstract World
22. The Energy and Information Content of Society
23. Can Our World Population Collapse?

III. THE PERSISTENCE OF MANKIND
F. Another Future for Our Human World?
24. The Road We Took, and the Way Forward

Epilogue. The Emperor’s New Clothes

About the Author
Acknowledgments
Selected Bibliography
Index

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