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close this bookEco-restructuring: Implications for Sustainable Development (UNU, 1998, 417 p.)
View the document(introduction...)
close this folder1. Eco-restructuring: The transition to an ecologically sustainable economy
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentIntroduction: On sustainability
View the documentThe need for holistic systems analysis
View the documentEnvironmental threats and (un)sustainability indicators
View the documentSharpening the debate
View the documentNon-controversial issues: Population, resources, and technology
close this folderControversial issues: Pollution, productivity, and biospheric stability
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentOn toxicity
View the documentThe stability of the biosphere: The impossibility of computing the odds
View the documentTechnical preconditions for sustainability
View the documentFinding the least-cost (least-pain) path
View the documentConcluding comments
View the documentNotes
View the documentReferences
close this folderPart I: Restructuring resource use
close this folder2. The biophysical basis of eco-restructuring: An overview of current relations between human economic activities and the global system
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentIntroduction
View the documentThe earth system
View the documentThe climate system and climatic change
View the documentClimatic change and vulnerability
View the documentBiological diversity
View the documentFresh water
View the documentSoils
View the documentThe solid earth (lithosphere)
View the documentLand-cover and land-use changes
View the documentHuman impacts and industrial metabolism
View the documentThe case of West Africa
View the documentOutlook
close this folder3. Ecological process engineering: The potential of bio-processing
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentEditor's note
View the documentIntroduction
View the documentThe current situation: The status of biotechnologies
View the documentPotential and promises
View the documentMarket penetration by biotechnology
View the documentBarriers to penetration
View the documentFinal remarks
View the documentNotes
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close this folder4. Materials futures: Pollution prevention, recycling, and improved functionality
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentEditor's introduction
View the documentBackground
View the documentStrategies to increase materials productivity
View the documentMaterials technology
View the documentMaterial attributes
View the documentMaterial performance trends
View the documentConclusions
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close this folder5. Global energy futures: The long-term perspective for eco-restructuring
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentIntroduction
View the documentWhat is the energy system?
View the documentEnergy system inefficiencies
View the documentThe deep future energy system
View the documentTransition and the rate of change of the energy system
View the documentNorth-South disparity and sustainable energy systems
View the documentConcluding remarks
View the documentNotes
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close this folder6. Fuel decarbonization for fuel cell applications and sequestration of the separated CO2
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentThe challenge of stabilizing the atmosphere
View the documentFlue gas decarbonization vs. fuel gas decarbonization
View the documentLifecycle CO2 emissions - without and with CO2 sequestration
View the documentOptions for sequestering CO2
View the documentFraming the cost analysis for CO2 sequestration
View the documentMajor findings of the sequestration cost analysis
View the documentAppendix A: The importance of the water-gas shift reaction in fuel decarbonization
View the documentAppendix B: Biomass CO2 emission offset potential in a world where some coal-rich regions cannot or will not reduce emissions
View the documentAppendix C: Pipeline transport of hydrogen
View the documentAcknowledgements
View the documentNotes
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close this folder7. Photovoltaics
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentIntroduction
View the documentThe technological potential of PV
View the documentPV costs
View the documentA PV market diffusion strategy
View the documentPossible PV adoption and diffusion scenarios
View the documentConcluding remarks: PV and eco-restructuring
View the documentNotes
View the documentBibliography
close this folderPart II: Restructuring sectors and the sectoral balance of the economy
close this folder8. Global eco-restructuring and technological change in the twenty-first century
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentGlobalization
View the documentPopulation growth and economic growth
View the documentEnvironmental pressures for global change
View the documentScenario analysis and the use of materials
View the documentThe challenge for eco-restructuring
View the documentConcluding remarks
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close this folder9. Agro-eco-restructuring: Potential for sustainability
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentEditor's note
View the documentThe broad situation
View the documentIdentifying the limiting factors
View the documentThe technological feasibility of sustainable agriculture
View the documentThe possible course towards sustainable change
View the documentFinal remarks
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close this folder10. The restructuring of tropical land-use systems
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View the documentIntroduction
View the documentModels of rural development
View the documentThe need for integrated solutions in tropical land use
View the documentStrategic issues
View the documentConcluding remarks
View the documentNotes
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close this folder11. The restructuring of transport, logistics, trade, and industrial space use
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentIntroduction
View the documentThe significance of freight transport
View the documentPast growth and patterns of freight transport development
View the documentSpatial and transport outcomes
View the documentFuture developments affecting freight volumes and patterns
View the documentThe scope for reducing freight volumes
View the documentTaking up the potential
View the documentConclusion
View the documentNotes
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close this folder12 National and international policy instruments and institutions for eco-restructuring
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentIntroduction
View the documentBuilding on small agreements
View the documentEconomic policy instruments and mechanisms
View the documentInternational distributional implications
View the documentA precondition for social breakthroughs in the context of developing societies
View the documentIssues of science and technology for development
View the documentA future united nations system
View the documentReferences
View the documentContributors
View the documentOther titles of interest

Final remarks

To summarize, a number of conclusions can be set forth. In the first place, it is safe to say that biotechnologies can and doubtless will contribute significantly to long-run sustainability. They can contribute to solving existing problems such as food security, especially in the developing world (China, India). There is still significant potential for improving the yield and productivity of crops (e.g. rice) and animals, as well as improving nutritional value and taste, disease and pest resistance, storage life, and tolerance of heat, cold, saltiness, wetness, and aridity. A great and likely innovation of the coming decades will be the development of nitrogen-fixing staple crops, such as corn, wheat, and rice. Enormous strides can be expected in aquaculture, fishery management, and food processing, not to mention drinking water purification, composting of garbage, sewage treatment, biomass-based energy production, soil fertility, and decontamination. Developments such as "boneless" breeds (e.g. of trout), "seedless" fruits, and "antifreeze" genes (e.g. for salmon, tomatoes) will also make life interesting.

"Eco-technology" as a vision needs further elaboration and application. To achieve more general acceptance the vision must be sufficiently matured to be able to offer plausible alternatives and to describe transition pathways, from both economic and technological perspectives, such that the solving capacity is regarded as higher than the existing approach. This will require extensive research, development, and experience ("learning by doing"). Some examples are quantified in table 3.8 (Moser 1996).

Genuine practicality in making suggestions requires detailed knowledge of a particular region or country - its history, culture, biosphere, social structure, manpower situation, etc. There is no single set of recipes for a solution. Only general recommendations can be made, as depicted here.

Nevertheless, the direction seems inevitable. In the long run, principles of life must apply. The imperatives of the long-run survival of the human species surely imply that humans must learn to work within nature - as the so-called "indigenous" peoples had to do rather than treating nature as an enemy to be overcome. This long run survival imperative necessitates the preservation of biodiversity, as well as human cultural and social diversity. In this context, technology becomes a powerful tool to assist us to achieve the sort of eco-restructuring that will be required to achieve long-run sustainability.

Table 3.8 Quantitative data on the reduction of the environmental impact (heco) in the case of some recently elaborated "eco-tech" processes, using the SPI index for the quantification of the production processes (not including the application of the products)

Production process

heco

Drinking water denitrification:

2-5

micro-organisms versus electrodialysis


Bio-pesticides:

10-100

renewable versus fossil raw materials used


Biopolymers:

0.5-3.0

polyhydroxy-butyric acid versus polyethylene


Bio-fertilizers:

>5 104

rhizabium strains as soil bacteria versus chemical synthetic fertilizer (urea)