Edited by Matthias Ruth and Brynhildur Davidsdottir
John R. Ehrenfeld With this book, Matthias Ruth and Brynhildur Davidsdottir have made an important and substantial contribution to the still evolving field of industrial ecology. In the years that have transpired since the emergence of the idea that economic and industrial systems generally exhibit features analogous to natural ecosystems, the field has taken root. Industrial ecology now has associated with it activities in many universities, consultants with programmes based on industrial ecological principles, and applications of these principles showing up in corporate strategy, product design and public policy. The key principles spring from the above-mentioned ecological analogy and include such notions as loop closing and symbiosis, mimicking forms and processes found in healthy ecologies. The first chapter in the collection expands and comments on connections between the field and natural ecosystems. The stressed term above, ‘healthy’, lends a normative dimension to the field, beyond the merely descriptive character of analogies. Environmental management and its successor concept, sustainability, have become firmly embedded in high-level societal activities in virtually every economic sector and industrialized nation. The relevance of these terms is tied to a still-growing consciousness of the fragility of the Earth’s ecosystem and its criticality as the primary life support system of our species and indeed all life. International consensus about global warming and its impact on climate has now heightened interest in acting to preserve the environment for the present and for future generations. Among many potential pathways toward sustainability, one stands out as the choice of most industrial...