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A Handbook of Industrial Ecology

Edited by Robert U. Ayres and Leslie W. Ayres

Industrial ecology is coming of age and this superb book brings together leading scholars to present a state-of-the-art overviews of the subject. Each part of the book comprehensively covers the following issues in a systematic style: the goals and achievements of industrial ecology and the history of the field; methodology, covering the main approaches to analysis and assessment; economics and industrial ecology; industrial ecology at the national/regional level; industrial ecology at the sectoral/materials level; and applications and policy implications.
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Chapter 46: Earth systems engineering and management

Braden R. Allenby


Braden R. Allenby Earth systems engineering and management (ESEM) is a new area of study arising from the confluence of several trends in different fields. As a result of the Industrial Revolution, the globalization of the Greco-Judaeo-Christian Eurocentric civilization and its technologies, and explosive growth in human population levels and economic activity, the dynamics of many fundamental natural systems (for example, the carbon, nitrogen, sulfur, phosphorus and hydrologic cycles; atmospheric and oceanic systems; the biosphere at scales from the genetic to the species and community levels) are now dominated by the activities of one species – ours (Turner et al. 1990; Ayres et al. 1994; Nriagu 1994; Smil 1997; Vitousek et al. 1997). The Earth as it now exists increasingly reflects the perhaps unintended and unconscious, but nonetheless real, design of a single species. Although this process has been accelerated by the Industrial Revolution, ‘natural’ and human systems on all scales have in fact been affecting each other, and evolving together, for millennia, and they are now more tightly coupled than ever. Copper production in China during the Sung Dynasty, as well as in Athens and the Roman Republic and Empire, are reflected in deposition levels in Greenland ice (Hong et al. 1996). And lead production in ancient Athens, Rome and medieval Europe is reflected in increases in lead concentration in the sediments of Swedish lakes (Renberg et al. 1994). The build-up of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere began, not with the post-World War II...

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