1. Introduction; 2. The systems dynamics perspective; 3. In search of sustainability: past civilizations; 4. The world in the past 300 years: the Great Acceleration; 5. Sustainability: concerns and definitions; 6. Quality of life: on values, knowledge and worldviews; 7. Energy fundamentals; 8. On knowledge and models; 9. Ecosystems; 10. Human populations and human behaviour; 11. Agro-food systems; 12. Renewable resources: water, fish and forest; 13. Non-renewable resources: the industrial economy; 14. Towards a sustainable economy; 15. Outlook on the futures.
This textbook surveys key issues of sustainability - energy, nature, agro-food, resources, economics - for advanced undergraduate and graduate level courses.
Bert J. M. de Vries is co-founder and member of the Institute for Energy and Environment (IVEM) at the University of Groningen in The Netherlands, where he received his Ph.D. on sustainable resource use. Since 1990 he has been a senior scientist at the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency (PBL, formerly MNP and RIVM). He has been actively involved in modelling and scenario construction for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Since 2003 he has also been a Professor of Global Change and Energy at Utrecht University in The Netherlands. His research expertise and publications are in resource and energy analysis, modelling and policy; climate and global change modelling; and complex systems modelling for sustainable development. He has co-edited several books, including Perspectives on Global Change: The TARGETS Approach (1997, Cambridge University Press) and Mappae Mundi: Humans and their Habitats in a Long-Term Socio-Ecological Perspective (2002, Amsterdam University Press).
'Achieving some sort of sustainability will be THE focus of global
societies in the twenty-first century. To be successful, our
leaders will need a perspective of centuries, the full breadth of
scientific insights, system thinking skills, great cultural
sensitivity, and an awareness of spiritual values. All of these are
offered in this wonderful, unique text, which will be useful for
decades.' Dennis Meadows, co-author of The Limits to Growth
'This textbook is one of the first truly all-encompassing introductions to sustainability science. It is methodical, clearly written and well-illustrated, truly a pleasure to handle and to read. It sets a standard for the discipline and solidly educates the generation of students that will most directly have to deal with the challenges of creating a sustainable Earth system.' Sander van der Leeuw, Dean, School of Sustainability, Arizona State University
'In this important new book, Bert de Vries has adopted a systems approach to examining all the issues that collectively amount to the determinants of sustainability. It is an excellent, comprehensive and up-to-date text dealing with not only the underlying biophysical science but also human behaviour. His use of interesting examples throughout makes it both instructive and enjoyable to read. I highly recommended it.' Brian Walker, CSIRO Ecosystem Sciences, Australia
'Bert de Vries' Sustainability Science is particularly welcome as it breaks ground in a new field, which so far lacks a proper systematic treatment. No wonder! The challenge is overwhelming: the book covers a series of disciplines and fields - geography, social and economic sciences, physics, chemistry, and biology - using a systems description and system dynamics as the main tool. De Vries not only succeeds in this overwhelming task but spices up the text with multiple excursions into history, philosophy, literature, not to forget the key issue of ethics. Justice and how we would like a future world to look like is always present. Bert's book is impressive, rich and inspiring.' Lars Ryden, Centre for Sustainable Development, Uppsala University