Throughout much of human history, changes to forest ecosystems have come about through natural climatic changes occurring over long periods of time. But scientists now find changes in forest cover dramatically accelerated by such human activities as large-scale agriculture, the building of dams and roads, and the growth of cities with vast areas of asphalt. Changes that once took centuries now take only decades. Seeing the Forest and the Trees examines changes in land cover and land use in forested regions as major contributors to global environmental change.
Human survival depends on a continuing energy supply, but the need for ever-increasing amounts of energy poses a dilemma: How can we provide the benefits of energy to the population of the globe without damaging the environment, negatively affecting social stability, or threatening the well-being of future generations? The solution will lie in finding sustainable energy sources and more efficient means of converting and utilizing energy.
Earth System Analysis for Sustainability uses an integrated systems approach to provide a panoramic view of planetary dynamics since the inception of life some four billion years ago and to identify principles for responsible management of the global environment in the future. Perceiving our planet as a single entity with hypercomplex, often unpredictable behavior, the authors use Earth system analysis to study global changes past and future.
Increasing concerns about the future of humankind that arise from threats of terrorism, nuclear war, and environmental destruction dramatize the fact that we must begin working collectively to change our ways of interacting with one another and with our habitat. In Global Intelligence and Human Development, Mihai Spariosu argues that the best way to bring about this change is through education. We need, he says, to create learning environments that help us to develop a "global mindset."
Scientists Debate Gaia is a multidisciplinary reexamination of the Gaia hypothesis, which was introduced by James Lovelock and Lynn Margulis in the early 1970s. The Gaia hypothesis holds that Earth's physical and biological processes are linked to form a complex, self-regulating system and that life has affected this system over time. Until a few decades ago, most of the earth sciences viewed the planet through disciplinary lenses: biology, chemistry, geology, atmospheric and ocean studies. The Gaia hypothesis, on the other hand, takes a very broad interdisciplinary approach.
In Energy at the Crossroads, Vaclav Smil considers the twenty-first century's crucial question: how to reconcile the modern world's unceasing demand for energy with the absolute necessity to preserve the integrity of the biosphere. With this book he offers a comprehensive, accessible guide to today's complex energy issues—how to think clearly and logically about what is possible and what is desirable in our energy future.
In his latest book, Vaclav Smil tells the story of the Earth's biosphere from its origins to its near- and long-term future. He explains the workings of its parts and what is known about their interactions. With essay-like flair, he examines the biosphere's physics, chemistry, biology, geology, oceanography, energy, climatology, and ecology, as well as the changes caused by human activity. He provides both the basics of the story and surprising asides illustrating critical but often neglected aspects of biospheric complexity.
The concept of Gaia resonates with a wide range of people— from nature lovers, theologians, and philosophers to environmental and earth systems scientists. The term, which scientist James Lovelock, originator of the Gaia hyposthesis, borrowed from Greek mythology, refers to the interacting system of life, soil, atmosphere, and ocean. Like the interiors of organisms, Gaia contains complex cycles and material transformations driven by biological energy. Gaia's inclusion of life means that from some perspectives it resembles life.
Natural ecosystems such as lakes, grasslands, and forests undergo succession from their early stages of development to maturity, when the community of plants and animals achieves a condition of equilibrium with its physical environment. Because ecosystems succeed in response to either natural or man-made disturbances, it is important to understand how successional behavior arises and how to control it to avoid permanent deterioration of systems indispensable for our survival.
Enormous increases in the demand for power throughout the world make it imperative to reduce the environmental hazards and pollution associated with power generation. This book discusses the effects that power generation has had on the land, the water, the air, and the biosphere. It reviews the technological means available for abatement and control of damaging environmental effects and describes power generation techniques that could prove more compatible with the environment.