Wasted World

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  • Format: Hardcover
  • Copyright: 2012-04-01
  • Publisher: Univ of Chicago Pr
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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 Worldpresents 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.

Table of Contents

Introductionp. ix
Natural Processesp. 1
The Nature of Life: Making Wastep. 3
Nature Goes in Cyclesp. 15
Ongoing Processes in the Human Populationp. 23
Population Growth and its Limitationsp. 25
The Growing Problem of Mankindp. 27
Population Growth and Agricultural Productionp. 28
Population Growth and Industrial Productionp. 47
Agribusiness and Corporate Statesp. 57
Exhausting and Wasting Our Resourcesp. 71
Peak Oil and Beyondp. 72
Limited Resourcesp. 86
Man-Made Wastep. 94
When It's Gone, It's Gonep. 106
Exhausting and Wasting Our Environmentp. 121
Our Freshwater is Running Out!p. 122
Polluting the Air and Warming Our Climatep. 136
Deforestation and Its Consequencesp. 153
The Loss of Biodiversityp. 163
Wasted Landp. 173
Toward a Collapse of Our Society?p. 185
Processes within the Human Populationp. 187
What is Overpopulation?p. 188
Bursting Out of Edenp. 202
Urbanizationp. 214
Migrationp. 220
The Spread of Diseasesp. 229
The Dynamic Structure of Societyp. 241
Processes within the Global Societyp. 253
From a Concrete to an Abstract Worldp. 254
The Energy and Information Content of Societyp. 264
Can Our World Population Collapse?p. 278
The Persistence of Mankindp. 293
Another Future for Our Human World?p. 295
The Road We Took, and the Way Forwardp. 296
Epilogue. The Emperor's New Clothesp. 307
About the Authorp. 313
Acknowledgmentsp. 315
Selected Bibliographyp. 317
Table of Contents provided by Ingram. All Rights Reserved.

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