Introduction to Sustainability
持续时间: 8 weeks
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This course introduces the academic approach of Sustainability and explores how today’s human societies can endure in the face of global change, ecosystem degradation and resource limitations. The course focuses on key knowledge areas of sustainability theory and practice, including population, ecosystems, global change, energy, agriculture, water, environmental economics and policy, ethics, and cultural history.
This subject is of vital importance, seeking as it does to uncover the principles of the long-term welfare of all the peoples of the planet. As sustainability is a cross-disciplinary field of study, this foundation requires intellectual breadth: as I describe it in the class text, understanding our motivations requires the humanities, measuring the challenges of sustainability requires knowledge of the sciences (both natural and social), and building solutions requires technical insight into systems (such as provided by engineering, planning, and management).
Week 1: Introduction. Pessimism vs. optimism.
- Neo-malthusians, J-curves, S-curves and the IPAT equation
Week 2: Population. Demographics and the disappearance of the third world
- Demographics, population trends.
Week 3: Tragedy of the Commons.
- Fisheries, pastures, public vs private solutions
Week 4: Climate Change. The climate of the near future: hot, hotter, or hottest?
- Weather vs. Climate, Proxy and data climate evidence, Climate projections
Week 5 : Energy. What happens when we reach “Peak Oil” Renewable energy: is there enough to make the switch?
- Peak Oil/Fossil Fuel, Energy survey, availability, and density, EROI
Week 6: Agriculture and Water. Is there enough water and food for the 21st Century?
- GMOs and the Green Revolution, water stocks and flows - physical and social constraints
Week 7: Environmental Economics and Policy. Can economists lead the way to sustainability?
- Environmental Evaluation, project and policy evaluation, Incentive policies
Week 8: Ethics and Culture and Measurement. The long view.
- NeCarbon Footprints, Energy and water efficiency metrics, Sustainability Ethics, Environmental ideology and conservation movements