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Energy In Nature And Society

Author: Vaclav Smil
Publisher: MIT Press
ISBN: 0262693569
Size: 71.62 MB
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Energy in Nature and Society is a systematic and exhaustive analysis of all the majorenergy sources, storages, flows, and conversions that have shaped the evolution of the biosphere andcivilization. Vaclav Smil uses fundamental unifying metrics (most notably for power density andenergy intensity) to provide an integrated framework for analyzing all segments of energetics (thestudy of energy flows and their transformations). The book explores not only planetary energetics(such as solar radiation and geomorphic processes) and bioenergetics (photosynthesis, for example)but also human energetics (such as metabolism and thermoregulation), tracing them fromhunter-gatherer and agricultural societies through modern-day industrial civilization. Included arechapters on heterotrophic conversions, traditional agriculture, preindustrial complexification,fossil fuels, fossil-fueled civilization, the energetics of food, and the implications of energeticsfor the environment. The book concludes with an examination of general patterns, trends, andsocioeconomic considerations of energy use today, looking at correlations between energy and value,energy and the economy, energy and quality of life, and energy futures. Throughout the book, Smilchooses to emphasize the complexities and peculiarities of the real world, and the counterintuitiveoutcomes of many of its processes, over abstract models. Energy in Nature and Society provides aunique, comprehensive, single-volume analysis and reference source on all important energy matters,from natural to industrial energy flows, from fuels to food, from the Earth's formation to possibleenergy futures, and can serve as a text for courses in energy studies, global ecology, earth systemsscience, biology, and chemistry. Vaclav Smil is Distinguished Professor at the University ofManitoba and the author of many books, including Energy at the Crossroads (2003), The Earth'sBiosphere: Evolution, Dynamics, and Change (2002), and Energies: An Illustrated Guide to theBiosphere and Civilization (1998), all of which are published by The MIT Press.

Complex Systems And Social Practices In Energy Transitions

Author: Nicola Labanca
Publisher: Springer
ISBN: 331933753X
Size: 52.84 MB
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This book offers an interdisciplinary discussion of the fundamental issues concerning policies for sustainable transition to renewable energies from the perspectives of sociologists, physicists, engineers, economists, anthropologists, biologists, ecologists and policy analysts. Adopting a combined approach, these are analysed taking both complex systems and social practice theories into consideration to provide deeper insights into the evolution of energy systems. The book then draws a series of important conclusions and makes recommendations for the research community and policy makers involved in the design and implementation of policies for sustainable energy transitions.

Socio Metabolic Perspectives On The Sustainability Of Local Food Systems

Author: Eva Fraňková
Publisher: Springer
ISBN: 3319692364
Size: 26.10 MB
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This book delves into diverse local food systems and critically assesses their ecological and societal benefits and trade-offs, their limits and opportunities for improving sustainability of food production, and framework conditions which either hinder or promote their development. More and more people with gradually meat heavier diets will demand growth in food production, whilst our increasingly industrialized and globalized agri-food system has already caused serious sustainability problems in the past. This calls for a change in the way we produce, distribute and consume food. A re-emerging debate on food security and food sovereignty seems to support this quest. But what are the promising alternatives to mainstream developments? Such a discussion regarding sustainability of local food systems requires a sound systemic understanding and thus invites a socio-metabolic reading of local cases by analyzing the nexus between material and energy flows as well as land and time use. This approach is needed to complement the so far mostly qualitatively-based local food studies. Applying socio-metabolic approaches to local food systems fosters a better understanding of promises and pitfalls for sustainable pathways in the future.

Social Ecology

Author: Helmut Haberl
Publisher: Springer
ISBN: 3319333267
Size: 55.92 MB
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This book presents the current state of the art in Social Ecology as practiced by the Vienna School of Social Ecology, globally one of the main research groups in this field. As a significant contribution to the growing literature on interdisciplinary sustainability studies, the book introduces the purpose and nature of Social Ecology and then places the “Vienna School” within the broader context of socioecological and other interdisciplinary environmental approaches. The conceptual and methodological foundations of Social Ecology are discussed in detail, allowing the reader to obtain a broad overview of current socioecological thinking. Issues covered include socio-metabolic transitions, socioecological approaches to land use, the relation between actor-centered and system approaches, a socioecological theory of labor and the importance of legacies, as conceived in Environmental History and in Long-Term Socio-Ecological Research. To underpin this overview empirically, the strengths of socioecological research are elucidated in cases of cutting-edge research, introducing a variety of themes the Vienna School has been tackling empirically over the past years. Given how the field is presented – reflecting research carried out on different scales, reaching from local to global as well as from past to present and future – and due to the way the book is structured, it is suitable for classroom use, as a primer, and also as an overview of how Social Ecology evolved, right up to its current research frontiers.

Evolution And The Emergent Self

Author: Raymond L. Neubauer
Publisher: Columbia University Press
ISBN: 0231521685
Size: 19.19 MB
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Evolution and the Emergent Self is an eloquent and evocative new synthesis that explores how the human species emerged from the cosmic dust. Lucidly presenting ideas about the rise of complexity in our genetic, neuronal, ecological, and ultimately cosmological settings, the author takes readers on a provocative tour of modern science's quest to understand our place in nature and in our universe. Readers fascinated with "Big History" and drawn to examine big ideas will be challenged and enthralled by Raymond L. Neubauer's ambitious narrative. How did humans emerge from the cosmos and the pre-biotic Earth, and what mechanisms of biological, chemical, and physical sciences drove this increasingly complex process? Neubauer presents a view of nature that describes the rising complexity of life in terms of increasing information content, first in genes and then in brains. The evolution of the nervous system expanded the capacity of organisms to store information, making learning possible. In key chapters, the author portrays four species with high brain:body ratios—chimpanzees, elephants, ravens, and dolphins—showing how each species shares with humans the capacity for complex communication, elaborate social relationships, flexible behavior, tool use, and powers of abstraction. A large brain can have a hierarchical arrangement of circuits that facilitates higher levels of abstraction. Neubauer describes this constellation of qualities as an emergent self, arguing that self-awareness is nascent in several species besides humans and that potential human characteristics are embedded in the evolutionary process and have emerged repeatedly in a variety of lineages on our planet. He ultimately demonstrates that human culture is not a unique offshoot of a language-specialized primate, but an analogue of fundamental mechanisms that organisms have used since the beginning of life on Earth to gather and process information in order to buffer themselves from fluctuations in the environment. Neubauer also views these developments in a cosmic setting, detailing open thermodynamic systems that grow more complex as the energy flowing through them increases. Similar processes of increasing complexity can be found in the "self-organizing" structures of both living and nonliving forms. Recent evidence from astronomy indicates that planet formation may be nearly as frequent as star formation. Since life makes use of the elements commonly seeded into space by burning and expiring stars, it is reasonable to speculate that the evolution of life and intelligence that happened on our planet may be found across the universe.

The Solar Revolution

Author: Steve McKevitt
Publisher: Icon Books
ISBN: 1848316550
Size: 63.38 MB
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It’s an astonishing fact that capturing all the energy in just one hour’s worth of sunlight would enable us to meet the planet’s food and energy needs for an entire year. The Solar Revolution tells the story of how scientists are working to reconnect us to the ‘solar economy’, harnessing the power of the sun to provide sustainable food and energy for a global population of 10 billion people: an achievement that would end our dependence on ‘fossilised sunshine’ in the form of coal, oil and gas and remake our connection with the soil that grows our food. Steve McKevitt and Tony Ryan describe the human race’s complex relationship with the sun and take us back through history to see how our world became the place it is today – chemically, geologically, ecologically, climatically and economically – before moving on to the cutting-edge science and technology that will enable us to live happily in a sustainable future.

The Republic Of Nature

Author: Mark Fiege
Publisher: University of Washington Press
ISBN: 0295804149
Size: 74.75 MB
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In the dramatic narratives that comprise The Republic of Nature, Mark Fiege reframes the canonical account of American history based on the simple but radical premise that nothing in the nation's past can be considered apart from the natural circumstances in which it occurred. Revisiting historical icons so familiar that schoolchildren learn to take them for granted, he makes surprising connections that enable readers to see old stories in a new light. Among the historical moments revisited here, a revolutionary nation arises from its environment and struggles to reconcile the diversity of its people with the claim that nature is the source of liberty. Abraham Lincoln, an unlettered citizen from the countryside, steers the Union through a moment of extreme peril, guided by his clear-eyed vision of nature's capacity for improvement. In Topeka, Kansas, transformations of land and life prompt a lawsuit that culminates in the momentous civil rights case of Brown v. Board of Education. By focusing on materials and processes intrinsic to all things and by highlighting the nature of the United States, Fiege recovers the forgotten and overlooked ground on which so much history has unfolded. In these pages, the nation's birth and development, pain and sorrow, ideals and enduring promise come to life as never before, making a once-familiar past seem new. The Republic of Nature points to a startlingly different version of history that calls on readers to reconnect with fundamental forces that shaped the American experience. For more information, visit the author's website: http://republicofnature.com/

The Measure Of Civilization

Author: Ian Morris
Publisher: Princeton University Press
ISBN: 1400844762
Size: 35.15 MB
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In the last thirty years, there have been fierce debates over how civilizations develop and why the West became so powerful. The Measure of Civilization presents a brand-new way of investigating these questions and provides new tools for assessing the long-term growth of societies. Using a groundbreaking numerical index of social development that compares societies in different times and places, award-winning author Ian Morris sets forth a sweeping examination of Eastern and Western development across 15,000 years since the end of the last ice age. He offers surprising conclusions about when and why the West came to dominate the world and fresh perspectives for thinking about the twenty-first century. Adapting the United Nations' approach for measuring human development, Morris's index breaks social development into four traits--energy capture per capita, organization, information technology, and war-making capacity--and he uses archaeological, historical, and current government data to quantify patterns. Morris reveals that for 90 percent of the time since the last ice age, the world's most advanced region has been at the western end of Eurasia, but contrary to what many historians once believed, there were roughly 1,200 years--from about 550 to 1750 CE--when an East Asian region was more advanced. Only in the late eighteenth century CE, when northwest Europeans tapped into the energy trapped in fossil fuels, did the West leap ahead. Resolving some of the biggest debates in global history, The Measure of Civilization puts forth innovative tools for determining past, present, and future economic and social trends.

Project Sunshine

Author: Steve McKevitt
Publisher: Icon Books Ltd
ISBN: 1848315627
Size: 58.33 MB
Format: PDF, ePub, Mobi
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It’s an astonishing fact that capturing all the energy in just one hour’s worth of sunlight would enable us to meet the planet’s food and energy needs for an entire year. Project Sunshine tells the story of how scientists are working to reconnect us to the ‘solar economy’, harnessing the power of the sun to provide sustainable food and energy for a global population of 10 billion people: an achievement that would end our dependence on ‘fossilised sunshine’ in the form of coal, oil and gas and remake our connection with the soil that grows our food. Steve McKevitt and Tony Ryan describe the human race’s complex relationship with the sun and take us back through history to see how our world became the place it is today – chemically, geologically, ecologically, climatically and economically – before moving on to the cutting-edge science and technology that will enable us to live happily in a sustainable future.