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A twenty minute video, The Story of Stuff , tells the complicated story of how our "stuff" moves from extraction to sale to disposal.

The story of stuff

an image of fast food
Fast Food Industry's Environmental Impact? Here’s food for thought. Though we are accustomed to measuring the impact of a fast food diet on our physical health, there is much less readily available information on the global network of agricultural providers that supports the fast food industry, and on its environmental impacts on land use, water resources, and human communities. Source: Created by CrazyRob926


To think about sustainability in these terms may sound exhausting. But because we live in a world characterized by connectivity , that is, by complex chains linking our everyday lives to distant strangers and ecosystems in far flung regions of the earth, we have no choice. In the end, we must adapt our thinking to a complex, connected model of the world and our place in it. Persisting with only simple, consumerist frames of understanding—“I look great!” “This tastes delicious!”—for a complex world of remote impacts and finite resources renders us increasingly vulnerable to episodes of what ecologists call system collapse, that is, to the sudden breakdown of ecosystem services we rely upon for our life’s staple provisions.

In the early twenty-first century, vulnerability to these system collapses varies greatly according to where one lives. A long-term drought in India might bring the reality of aquifer depletion or climate change home to tens of thousands of people driven from their land, while the life of a suburban American teenager is not obviously affected by any resource crisis. But this gap will narrow in the coming years. Overwhelming scientific evidence points to rapidly increasing strains this century on our systems of food, water, and energy provision as well as on the seasonable weather to which we have adapted our agricultural and urban regions. In time, no one will enjoy the luxury of remaining oblivious to the challenges of sustainability. Drought, for example, is one of the primary indices of global ecosystem stress, and arguably the most important to humans. According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, without wholesale reformation of water management practices on a global scale, two-thirds of the world’s population will face water shortages by 2025, including densely populated regions of the United States.

So how did we arrive at this point? Without you or I ever consciously choosing to live unsustainably, how has it nevertheless come about that we face environmental crises of global scale, circumstances that will so decisively shape our lives and those of our children? Here’s one explanatory narrative, framed by the long view of human evolution.

Since the emergence of the first proto-human communities in Africa millions of years ago, we have spent over 99% of evolutionary time as nomadic hunters and gatherers. A fraction of the balance of our time on earth spans the 10,000 years of human agriculture, since the end of the last Ice Age. In turn, only a third of that fractional period has witnessed the emergence of the institutions and technologies—writing, money, mathematics, etc.—that we associate with human “civilization.” And lastly, at the very tip of the evolutionary timeline, no more than a blink of human species history, we find the development of the modern industrialized society we inhabit. Look around you. Observe for a moment all that is familiar in your immediate surroundings: the streetscape and buildings visible through the window, the plastic furnishings in the room, and the blinking gadgets within arm’s length of where you sit. All of it is profoundly “new” to human beings; to all but a handful of the tens of thousands of generations of human beings that have preceded us, this everyday scene would appear baffling and frightening, as if from another planet.

Questions & Answers

Is there any normative that regulates the use of silver nanoparticles?
Damian Reply
what king of growth are you checking .?
What fields keep nano created devices from performing or assimulating ? Magnetic fields ? Are do they assimilate ?
Stoney Reply
why we need to study biomolecules, molecular biology in nanotechnology?
Adin Reply
yes I'm doing my masters in nanotechnology, we are being studying all these domains as well..
what school?
biomolecules are e building blocks of every organics and inorganic materials.
anyone know any internet site where one can find nanotechnology papers?
Damian Reply
sciencedirect big data base
Introduction about quantum dots in nanotechnology
Praveena Reply
what does nano mean?
Anassong Reply
nano basically means 10^(-9). nanometer is a unit to measure length.
do you think it's worthwhile in the long term to study the effects and possibilities of nanotechnology on viral treatment?
Damian Reply
absolutely yes
how to know photocatalytic properties of tio2 nanoparticles...what to do now
Akash Reply
it is a goid question and i want to know the answer as well
characteristics of micro business
for teaching engĺish at school how nano technology help us
Do somebody tell me a best nano engineering book for beginners?
s. Reply
there is no specific books for beginners but there is book called principle of nanotechnology
what is fullerene does it is used to make bukky balls
Devang Reply
are you nano engineer ?
fullerene is a bucky ball aka Carbon 60 molecule. It was name by the architect Fuller. He design the geodesic dome. it resembles a soccer ball.
what is the actual application of fullerenes nowadays?
That is a great question Damian. best way to answer that question is to Google it. there are hundreds of applications for buck minister fullerenes, from medical to aerospace. you can also find plenty of research papers that will give you great detail on the potential applications of fullerenes.
what is the Synthesis, properties,and applications of carbon nano chemistry
Abhijith Reply
Mostly, they use nano carbon for electronics and for materials to be strengthened.
is Bucky paper clear?
carbon nanotubes has various application in fuel cells membrane, current research on cancer drug,and in electronics MEMS and NEMS etc
so some one know about replacing silicon atom with phosphorous in semiconductors device?
s. Reply
Yeah, it is a pain to say the least. You basically have to heat the substarte up to around 1000 degrees celcius then pass phosphene gas over top of it, which is explosive and toxic by the way, under very low pressure.
Do you know which machine is used to that process?
how to fabricate graphene ink ?
for screen printed electrodes ?
What is lattice structure?
s. Reply
of graphene you mean?
or in general
in general
Graphene has a hexagonal structure
On having this app for quite a bit time, Haven't realised there's a chat room in it.
what is biological synthesis of nanoparticles
Sanket Reply
how did you get the value of 2000N.What calculations are needed to arrive at it
Smarajit Reply
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Source:  OpenStax, Sustainability: a comprehensive foundation. OpenStax CNX. Nov 11, 2013 Download for free at http://legacy.cnx.org/content/col11325/1.43
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