Skip to Main Content
Have library access? Log in through your library
Metabolism of the Anthroposphere

Metabolism of the Anthroposphere: Analysis, Evaluation, Design

Peter Baccini
Paul H. Brunner
Copyright Date: 2012
Published by: MIT Press
Pages: 408
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    Metabolism of the Anthroposphere
    Book Description:

    Over the last several thousand years of human life on Earth, agricultural settlements became urban cores, and these regional settlements became tightly connected through infrastructures transporting people, materials, and information. This global network of urban systems, including ecosystems, is the anthroposphere; the physical flows and stocks of matter and energy within it form its metabolism. This book offers an overview of the metabolism of the anthroposphere, with an emphasis on the design of metabolic systems. It takes a cultural historical perspective, supported with methodology from the natural sciences and engineering. The book will be of interest to scholars and practitioners in the fields of regional development, environmental protection, and material management. It will also be a resource for undergraduate and graduate students in industrial ecology, environmental engineering, and resource management. The authors describe the characteristics of material stocks and flows of human settlements in space and time; introduce the method of material flow analysis (MFA) for metabolic studies; analyze regional metabolism and the material systems generated by basic activities; and offer four case studies of optimal metabolic system design: phosphorus management, urban mining, waste management, and mobility. This second edition of an extremely influential book has been substantially revised and greatly expanded. Its new emphasis on design and resource utilization reflects recent debates and scholarship on sustainable development and climate change.

    eISBN: 978-0-262-30132-9
    Subjects: Technology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Preface to the Second Edition
    (pp. vii-viii)
    Peter Baccini and Paul H. Brunner
  4. Preface to the First Edition
    (pp. ix-x)
    Peter Baccini and Paul H. Brunner
  5. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xi-xii)
  6. 1 Introduction
    (pp. 1-20)

    Homo sapienshas physically transformed the surface of planet Earth. For the past 6000 years, agricultural settlements have developed into urban cores. During the past 500 years, these regional settlements became tightly connected because of development of a diverse infrastructure transporting persons, materials, and information. Urbanization formed a global network of urban systems, including colonized terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems. This network is called theanthroposphere. The notionmetabolismis used to comprehend all physical flows and stocks of matter and energy within the anthroposphere.

    Security is reached through the sending of colonizers to a conquered country where they take the...

  7. 2 Metabolic Phenomena in the Anthroposphere
    (pp. 21-80)

    Exploration of the world of metabolic phenomena is done in a narrative way. This chapter tells a story about the questions posed and the answers found in their times. It starts with a medical doctor and the human body and follows chemists, physicists, biologists, and geologists investigating physiologic properties of societies living in entities of growing scales (private households, cities, regions). It chooses a few regional examples to illustrate behavioral patterns and to show initial attempts to design metabolic processes on larger scales. This chapter provides answers to the following questions:

    How did and do scientists perceive metabolic phenomena?


  8. 3 Analysis and Assessment of Metabolic Processes
    (pp. 81-172)

    A terminology and methodology for describing and evaluating the metabolism of the anthroposphere is proposed based on a classification of anthropogenic activities in the context of cultural values. Material flow analysis (MFA) is presented in detail as a base for all methods that are applied to assess anthropogenic systems. Examples of how to establish MFA and substance flow analysis (SFA) are given, and models and software products that support MFA/SFA are discussed. This chapter prepares us for the design of metabolic systems by answering the following questions:

    How to structure the anthroposphere for effective assessment and design of metabolic systems?...

  9. 4 Analyzing Regional Metabolism
    (pp. 173-280)

    Four activities, introduced in chapter 3, generate metabolic systems in human settlements. The region METALAND serves as an anthroposphere to illustrate the methodological instruments of MFA that are used to analyze and evaluate the essential characteristics of a regional metabolism. This chapter provides answers to the following questions:

    Why and how do we study regions to understand the metabolism of the anthroposphere?

    What types of material and metabolic systems do the activities generate in different steps of the cultural evolution?

    What are the metabolic essentials of a contemporary urban system at a developed economic state?

    Even though humankind may be...

  10. 5 Designing Metabolic Systems
    (pp. 281-362)

    Designing is, to begin with, an intellectual effort to create sketches for any human activity. Designers of metabolic systems produce blueprints for the physiologic setup of a human society. Metabolic designers are partners in a transdisciplinary enterprise called “designing the anthroposphere.” This chapter provides answers to the following questions:

    How do we position the metabolism in the context of an anthropogenic system?

    How do we set the objectives in metabolic design in the context of early recognition for a sustainable development?

    How can we design scenarios for optimal metabolic systems?

    Immortal life with Kalypso or in Elysium or in the...

  11. References
    (pp. 363-380)
  12. Glossary
    (pp. 381-384)
  13. Index
    (pp. 385-392)