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Lecture 4

ENV310H5 Lecture Notes - Lecture 4: Embodied Energy, Systems Science, Transdisciplinarity

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Barbara Murck

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ENV310 LEC 4
- 4 pillars (last week)
o Ecological sustainability
o Env primacy
o Planetary limits and boundaries
Carrying capacity
o Tech, production and resources
Resource management:
Renewable: balancing stocks and flows
Nonrenenwable: efficiency, reduce, reuse, recycle
o Stock being diminished as you use it
o Effectively creating non-renewable resources
Critical flow: renewable or replenishable resources that become
effectively non-renewable as a result of mismanagement withdrawals
greater than the rate of replenishment, so the stock is depleted with
Embodied resources: eg ate thats eodied i the poess of akig
All the stuff that went inside its extraction eates oflit as you dot ko
how far back to analyze
Initial: resources consumed in the acquisition of raw materials,
processing, transportation, and use in construction, production or
Recurring: resources consumed to maintain, repair, restore, refurbish or
replace components or materials during the life of bldg the product
Related to life-cycle analysis
Most commonly: embodied energy and water
Eg: the embodied energy in one bldg. is = 32k litres of gasoline
o Systems science and its applications
General Systems Theory: study of systems, with the goal of elucidating
principles that can be applied to all types of systems in all fields of research s
System: portion of the universe that can be delineated by boundaries, for the
purpose of studying the changes that occur within it under changing conditions
Eg: life cycle assessment of the table - boundaries?
o Dot just at to look at the aufatuig of the tale, e
also want to look at the processes
A set of interconnected, interdependent components that form an
integrated whole
A network of interacting components, both inside and outside of the
Most env systems are open systems
Closed are ones that let energy to pass but not matter
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Open: ones that let both matter and energy to move freely
o Principle of env unity
Most env systems are open, but Earth is a closed system
If you make a change in one part of the system, it will cause changes elsewhere
in the system
Dynamic equilibrium eaths susystes ae ostatly hagig,
interacting, re-balancing, and influencing each other
Cause and effect and feedbacks networks
hat goes aoud, oes aoud
Thee is o aay to tho thigs to
o These env sayings relate to the fact that the earth is a closed
o Thigs dot disappea ayhee fo the eath; ee he e
burn them
o How does this relate to sustainability?
We live in such a complicated world
Current problems and challenges are highly interlinked, complex, and
multidisciplinary, requiring a diff approach and way of thinking
- 3 aspects of systems science
o Interdisciplinarity and transdisciplinarity
Have to understand things from diff perspectives
o Systems theory:
Exploring and formalizing system concepts, principles, and models
o Systems approaches
Developing systemic methods for learning, design, and change
o These are all inter-related and gives us a different way to approach env problems today
o Feedbacks
Both natural and human systems are characterized by feedbacks
The output from a system process is fed back into the system as an input
Positive feedback: self-reinforcing and self-perpetuating
Carries itself on
Chaotic behaviour
Exponential growth
No middle ground
Negative feedback: self-limiting and self-regulating
Emergent properties - property of the whole system that are not displayed by
the individual components
Come only from the whole itself
Eg we get shade from the whole tree, not parts of it
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