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New edition of H.T. Odum's classic

Read an excerpt from Environment, Power, and Society for the Twenty-first Century (pdf)

"Environment, Power, and Society for the Twenty-first Century brackets the career of a great man. A scholar with a gigantic message, Howard T. Odum offers an approach that is distinctive, large, and coherent. This time he really can take a new generation into the air with him."
—Tim Allen, University of Wisconsin

Howard T. Odum possessed one of the most innovative minds of the twentieth century. He pioneered the fields of ecological engineering, ecological economics, and environmental accounting, working throughout his life to better understand the interrelationships of energy, environment, and society and their importance to the well-being of humanity and the planet.

This volume is a major modernization of Odum's classic work on the significance of power and its role in society, bringing his approach and insight to a whole new generation of students and scholars. For this edition Odum refines his original theories and introduces two new measures: emergy and transformity. These concepts can be used to evaluate and compare systems and their transformation and use of resources by accounting for all the energies and materials that flow in and out and expressing them in equivalent ability to do work. Natural energies such as solar radiation and the cycling of water, carbon, nitrogen, and oxygen are diagrammed in terms of energy and emergy flow. Through this method Odum reveals the similarities between human economic and social systems and the ecosystems of the natural world. In the process, we discover that our survival and prosperity are regulated as much by the laws of energetics as are systems of the physical and chemical world.

About the Author

Howard T. Odum was Graduate Research Professor at the University of Florida's Department of Environmental Engineering Sciences from 1970 until his death in 2002. He won the Crafoord Prize from the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences and the Prix de l'Institut de la Vie awarded by the French government. He is the author of numerous books and papers, including Ecological and General Systems: An Introduction to Systems Ecology, Environmental Accounting: Emergy and Decision Making, and, with Elisabeth C. Odum, Modeling for all Scales: An Introduction to System Simulation and The Prosperous Way Down: Principles and Policies.

Editorial Notes: Howard T. Odum (1924-2002) was one of the godfathers of sustainability and Peak Oil thought. He was an early ecologist (collaborating with his brother E.P. Odum, another ecologist), an analyst of energy flows and a visionary. Permaculture co-founder David Holmgren, for example, cites H.T. Odum as one of the major influences on him. The first edition of the book mentioned here, Environment, Power and Society, appeared in 1971. Unlike some of Odum's other books, this book is written for a general audience. When I read the early edition several years ago, it seemed to bristle with intriguing ideas - rather like the work of Buckminster Fuller. This updated edition should be of interest to anyone who wants to delve deeper into the new thinking about energy. I only wish that the book was available at lower prices, so more people could read it. Another book of Odum's that deserves greater readership (and a lower price) is his last, co-authored with his wife Elisabeth: A Prosperous Way Down." More on H.T. Odum: UPDATE (Oct 29, 2007) Patrick Fitzgerald of Columbia University Press writes:
HT actually did most of the updating of the book (about 85%) before he died [in 2002]. Mark Brown and Elizabeth Odum finished up with the details but the overall thrust of the work is clearly that of HT Odum's.
-BA

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