Friday, February 22, 2008


EfficienCity is a virtual city but all towns and cities in the UK could be enjoying the same lower greenhouse gas emissions, cheaper bills and better energy security.

EfficienCity: a climate-friendly town

EfficienCity: a climate-friendly town

EfficienCity is a virtual town, but pioneering, real world communities around the UK are using similar systems. As a result, they're enjoying lower greenhouse gas emissions, a more secure energy supply, cheaper electricity and heating bills and a whole new attitude towards energy.

While our government promotes the fallacy that we need coal and nuclear to keep the lights on, innovative councils, businesses and individuals are taking the leap into a cleaner, greener future with decentralised energy.

What is decentralised energy? Well, it's pretty much the opposite of our present, outrageously inefficient energy system, which was designed to meet the needs of a society that hadn't even heard of climate change. This centralised system is a shambles - in fact, it would be impossible to invent a less efficient way of generating energy.

The typical power plant in the UK is only 38 per cent efficient. By the time we use electricity in our homes and offices, we've lost nearly 80 per cent of the usable energy inside the fossil fuels we burn.

This is mostly because we have two separate energy systems: one for electricity, and another to heat water and buildings. It's news to some, but heat is a far bigger culprit than electricity when it comes to global warming.

For electricity, we burn fossil fuels in a few large power plants, miles away from the homes and offices they supply. Two thirds of the energy available in fossil fuels is lost in the power plant as waste heat (a by-product of electricity generation) and during transmission. Another 13 per cent is lost through inefficient use in our buildings.

For heat, we burn more fossil fuels (mostly natural gas) in boilers in our homes, offices and factories.

It's a little bit like putting radiators on the outside of your house instead of inside it; we're burning one lot of fossil fuels for electricity, and another lot for heat, but waste heat is a by-product of electricity generation. Can't we just burn one lot of fuel to generate electricity, and capture the 'waste' heat at the same time?

We can. Combined heat and power or CHP does exactly that.

Combined heat and power

CHP is the heart of an efficient, decentralised energy system like EfficienCity's. It's the most efficient way possible to burn fuel because so little energy is lost as waste heat. That's how CHP plants in Denmark can reach up to 95 per cent efficiency.

Because the heat needs to be captured and piped around the local district, CHP plants are usually sited in the towns and cities where the electricity and heat will be used. This makes it more efficient for electricity generation as well as heat; very little energy is lost in transmission.

If we combined the efficiencies of CHP with improved efficiencies in the home (proper insulation say, and minimum efficiency standards for appliances), we'd practically eliminate the profligate wastage of our current system.

CHP is also brilliant in the transition from a fossil-fuelled energy system to one based on cleaner, greener fuels like biogas and biomass. CHP plants can run on a variety of fuels, which means that the fuel mix can include fossil fuels like natural gas but, as more cleaner fuels like biogas become more available, they can switch to those.

Pretty much any organic matter can be used to produce biogas; farm waste is the most famous example (thanks to The Archers) but we could be reaping energy from all of our food that ends up as landfill. Biodegradable waste makes up about half of our total landfill, where it produces large amounts of methane, another greenhouse gas.

Local renewable energy sources

But decentralised energy isn't all about CHP. There's an abundance of energy out there in our natural world, ready to be harnessed. We could be harvesting energy from the wind, the sun's rays, the ocean, underground springs and even the earth itself. According to the government, just the wind, wave and tidal resources of our windswept island could meet 40 per cent of our energy needs by 2020. In the longer term, the sky's the limit.

A flexible, scalable energy system

Unlike our conventional power plants, decentralised energy is completely scalable and flexible. You can have a tiny CHP plant in a supermarket or an enormous industrial plant like Immingham, which will soon provide as much electricity as Sizewell B. You can have a single wind turbine like the one at Manchester City's stadium or a massive wind farm like the forthcoming London Array.

This also means that decentralised energy systems can be installed much faster than huge power plants, and can be tailored to fit local needs.

Energy security

Whereas decentralised systems like EfficienCity's rely on local, diverse energy sources, our current system will soon rely mostly on imported fossil fuels.

On top of that, using hundreds of small energy generators instead of a few major ones means there's a far lower risk of system failure; it's far less likely that several small plants will fail at the same time than that one big plant will.

If a local decentralised network did fail though, only one small area would be affected, and that area could import from neighbouring areas.

No more energy price hikes

Decentralised energy can also save consumers an enormous amount. Efficiency measures alone can save consumers a whopping £12 billion a year (the government's own figures) and they save more money than they cost to implement.

But there are other savings to be made. Although energy from decentralised systems may be more expensive per kilowatt hour than energy from coal, it can actually work out cheaper for the consumer. Why? Because only 37 per cent of the average British electricity bill is for the electricity. The rest goes to propping up the grossly inefficient infrastructure.

And of course, if the UK decoupled itself from the fossil fuel market, we'd be protecting ourselves from the massive price increases of gas, coal and oil, which will inevitably keep coming.

Reclaim the power!

Every major political party agrees that the future is decentralised. Every party, that is, except Labour, which wants to lock us into our archaic and criminally wasteful energy system with new coal and new nuclear power plants. With climate change already happening, that's precisely what we don't need.

We’ve decided to reclaim the power from the dinosaurs in Whitehall, by asking local councils to take the leap into a genuinely sustainable energy future like the one portrayed in EfficienCity.

Pioneering councils can transform the UK’s energy system. In Manchester, Eastleigh, Southampton, Woking and Birmingham, exciting schemes are already underway.

The Challenge of Sustainable Lifestyle

Read or download Chapter 4 of State of the World 2008 here.

Read this doc on Scribd: The Challenge of Sustainable Lifestyle

“Green Economics”: Turning Mainstream Thinking on Its Head

A few years ago, a homeowner in Las Vegas—a place that gets maybe five inches of rainfall a year—was confronted by a water district inspector for running an illegal sprinkler in the middle of the day. The man became very angry. He said, “You people and all your stupid rules—you’re trying to turn this place into a desert!”

Ideas about how the world works that don’t accord with reality can be unhelpful. That’s especially true about mainstream economics, which is based in part on ideas that made a lot of sense at some point in the last 250 years but that have outlived their time and usefulness. These ideas—such as the reliance on GDP as the key index of general wellbeing—still dominate assumptions and thinking about economic matters in the media, governments, businesses, and popular consciousness.

But in recent decades, economics theoreticians and researchers have suggested a variety of reforms that would make economics truer, greener, and more sustainable. My colleague Gary Gardner and I describe seven of these in Chapter 1 of the Worldwatch Institute’s latest report, State of the World 2008: Innovations for a Sustainable Economy:

1) Scale. How big is the global economy relative to the global ecosystem? This is crucial, because the economy resides totally inside the global ecosystem—the ecosystem gives the economy a place to operate, supplies all of its raw materials, and supports it with many critical services. In physical terms, economic activity is basically converting bits and pieces of the ecosystem to human uses: trees and forests into lumber and houses, grasslands and other habitats into farms to feed the billions of humans, and so on.

We’ve gotten really good at economic growth. Since Adam Smith’s time, the number of people in the world has exploded from about 1 billion to nearly 7 billion. And in the last 200 years, Gross World Product has risen by nearly a factor of 60. The ecosystem has suffered as a result, hence the headlines we see every day: climate change, species extinctions, dwindling rainforests, water shortages, and all the rest.

Piecemeal, we’re starting to get the message about the economy’s scale. For instance, we know that there’s too much carbon floating around for the system to handle benignly. Last year, more than 90 major corporations, including General Electric, Volvo, and Air France, called on governments to set goals for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and the European Union has set up a carbon cap-and-trade system.

Waste minimization is another way to reduce scale. Every year we dig up and process more than half a trillion tons of raw materials—and six months later more than 99 percent of it is waste. That can be fixed too: Ray Anderson’s Interface carpet company is a leader in this area, reducing manufacturing waste by 70 percent since the mid-1990s and saving over $300 million while doing it.

2) Stress development over growth. That is, make the economy better at satisfying human needs, not simply bigger.

This is partly about eco-efficiency. It’s now cost-effective to boost resource efficiency by at least a factor of four—and possibly by a factor of 20. And given the need for billions of people to grow their way out of dire poverty, we have to pursue these gains.

But it’s also about asking the question, what is an economy is really for? Not only can the global economy not keep growing forever, growth isn’t even working for many of us in wealthy nations anymore: U.S. per-capita income has tripled since 1950, for instance, but the share of Americans who say they’re very happy has dropped over the last 30 years. Studies in hedonic psychology reveal that higher incomes only improve life satisfaction up to a point. The research also says that the more materialistic people are, the lower levels of happiness they report. And it says that there appears to be a correlation between rising consumption and the erosion of the things that do make people happy, especially social relationships, family life, and a sense of community.

In response, a lot of people are rejecting the competition and get-ahead mentality of consumerism. They’re downshifting and pursuing voluntary simplicity all over the globe, and they’re taking collective action via campaigns for healthy eating, work leave for new parents, and shortened workweeks. The governments of Australia, Canada, and the United Kingdom have made wellbeing a national policy goal, and there is a lot of interest in indicators that measure wellbeing more directly than GNP.

3) Make prices tell the ecological truth. Cheating a bit here—this isn’t really a conceptual reform. Every economist knows that markets fail when prices don’t reflect actual costs. The reform would be actually applying this rule to the ecosystem. For instance, climate change is arguably the result of failing to charge for dumping carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Another example is human-caused species extinction. We’re basically dismantling our life-support machinery, and by and large until recently nobody paid for it. Fortunately, governments and business are beginning to experiment with carbon markets, water pricing mechanisms, and conservation banking. Carbon market trading was worth $59 billion in 2007, and there are now several hundred wetlands and species banks in the United States alone.

4) Account for nature’s services.This is closely related to #3. In the United States, the pollination performed by honeybees is worth about $19 billion per year. There’s also air and water purification, soil generation, pest control, seed dispersal, and nutrient recycling, among the many other services that nature provides. Tearing up ecosystems undermines these services, so some countries have begun trying to value them properly. Costa Rica, for example, pays landowners to preserve forests and their biodiversity, with the money coming from fuel taxes and sale of environmental credits to businesses. Mexico and Victoria, Australia, have also set up systems to assign values to formerly free services.

5) The precautionary principle. This is just the age-old wisdom of “first, do no harm” and “look before you leap,” but applied to public policy toward new products (like chemicals) and technologies that could pose serious risk. Ordinary risk analysis asks, “How much environmental damage will be allowed?” But the precautionary principle asks, “How little damage is possible?” Today we’re seeing the principle adopted more and more widely. The Maastricht Treaty that created the European Union in 1991 puts the principle at the center of its environmental policy, and San Francisco made precaution official policy in 2003.

6) Commons management. People generally believe that there are only two workable regimes for managing resources: private property or government control. But commons management regimes are a third way, one that taps the strong human impulse toward cooperation and the common good. Commons management has proven itself over centuries of experience—there are collectively managed irrigation systems in Spain that were begun in the 15th century, for instance, and other commonly managed forests and pastures in Switzerland, Japan, the Philippines, and Indonesia that are centuries old. Commons management lives and thrives today in such things as Wikipedia, community gardens, and farmers markets everywhere. The writer and entrepreneur Peter Barnes has suggested that the atmosphere, which everyone ought to own, could be successfully managed and protected via a commons regime. Ocean fisheries might be as well.

7) Value women. Economic systems ought to be gender-blind but they’re not. A UN report in the 1990s noted that “most poor people are women, and most women are poor.” All over the world, women earn less than men for equivalent work, they lack access to land and credit, and they do more than their share of child- and elder care, volunteer work, and other unpaid labor. There is evidence that this gender bias actually suppresses economic activity. In response, a few governments in industrial countries are trying to develop policies that take unpaid work into account. Muhammad Yunus’s Grameen Bank in Bangladesh is using the terms of its loans to help to ensure that wives are legally entitled to their share of a couple’s assets. And the microfinance movement appears to have given millions of women a valuable economic boost.

These seven ideas are hardly the only changes brewing in economics, but the innovations described in State of the World 2008 can generally be traced to one or more of them. Hopefully, they are on the way to transforming economics from “the dismal science” into more of a delightful one—or, to paraphrase E.F. Schumacher, into an economics as if people and the planet mattered.

Tom Prugh is editor of the Worldwatch Institute’s bimonthly magazine, World Watch, and co-director, with Gary Gardner, of State of the World 2008.

Local Currencies in the Twenty-First Century:

Understanding Money, Building Local Economies, Renewing Community

A Conference Report
By Susan Witt and Christopher Lindstrom of the E. F. Schumacher Society
140 Jug End Road
Great Barrington, MA 01230 USA

The most sustainable economy would be one in which the goods consumed in a region are produced in the same region using local resources and local labor. Ernest Fritz Schumacher referred to such a system as “an economy of permanence.” His 1974 book Small is Beautiful: Economics as if People Mattered, remains the most compelling case for building vibrant regional economies as a counterpoint to our increasing reliance on far flung global production systems.

The E. F. Schumacher Society, formed in 1980 after Schumacher’s death, is dedicated to creating and promoting the appropriate scaled economic tools that foster patterns of regional economic production and trade, benefiting small businesses and family farms, and involving consumers ever more directly with the people and land of their community. Among these tools are local currencies. During the weekend of June 25 ­27, 2004, the E. F. Schumacher Society convened a conference Local Currencies in the Twenty-First Century: Understanding Money, Building Local Economies, Renewing Community. Over three hundred people gathered at Bard College on the Hudson River in New York State to join what conference participant Pete Seeger called, “the best conference I ever attended.”

In today’s global economy national currencies have had the effect of centralizing ownership of wealth and of widening the gap between rich and poor--all the while undermining local communities, devastating indigenous peoples, and polluting the environment. Decentralized regional currencies are an important counterforce working to redistribute wealth more broadly while supporting unique regional identities, cultures, and communities. A local currency defines a regional trading area, favoring those small independent businesses willing to trade in the currency. Local businesses, unable to compete with the products of an increasingly predatory global economy, become strong players in resilient, regional marketplaces.

In 1972 Robert Swann worked with Ralph Borsodi, to issue a local currency in Exeter, New Hampshire, called the Constant. This experiment ended after a year due to Borsodi’s health, but Swann’s passion to responsibly issue currencies to renew local economies and local communities endured. Asked to serve as founding President of E. F. Schumacher Society, Swann applied this passion and helped shape the E. F. Schumacher Society’s work in the Berkshires with SHARE, Deli Dollars, Berkshire Farm Preserve Notes, and BerkShares. Swann died in January of 2003, before the local currency conference was conceived. However, if he had been there, he would have thanked the pioneering activists attending for their work in their own communities, encouraged them to share the sense of possibility and hope that comes from local action, and expressed his trust in a younger generation creating new, regional solutions.

From the Conference Overview


The E. F. Schumacher Society employs the term “local currencies” to refer to place-based monetary tools for building sustainable local economies. Other terms that have arisen and which were used during the conference, include “complementary currencies,” “community currencies,” and sometimes “alternative currencies.” These local currencies take many forms.

Local Bank Notes

In the 1800’s nearly all commercial banks in the United States issued their own individual currencies at the point of making “productive” loans to businesses. Typically a productive loan is made for purchase of equipment (machinery, tools, supplies) that will result in an increased availability of goods in the economy. In this way local banks determined the amount and kind of credit needed to stimulate business development in each particular region. In 1913 with the creation of the Federal Reserve Act, local bank money was replaced by the federal dollar issued by a coalition of private banks that make up the Federal Reserve banking system.

The Constant, issued in 1972 by the International Independence Institute, under the leadership of Ralph Borsodi and Robert Swann, circulated for a year in Exeter, New Hampshire stores as a demonstration that local bank notes, working with the not-for-profit sector, remain a contemporary option for local exchange.


In 1991, Paul Glover organized a local currency for his hometown of Ithaca, New York, that used paper notes for trade of local goods and services. The notes were denominated in hours of labor (equivalent to the average hourly wage for Ithaca or $10). To begin circulation, Hours were issued to owners of small businesses willing to accept the notes in trade for goods and services. Paul’s concept was that Hours would be backed by the future productivity of those to whom they were issued and so Hours would maintain a strong value independent of the fluctuation in federal dollars.

Over the next decade, Hours programs spread in over 50 communities throughout the United States and Canada engaging citizens in the discussion of creating their own regional monetary systems. Of these start-ups only a few are still running. Ithaca Hours continues to grow, having developed several new initiatives including a local health insurance program and exceptional collaboration with Alternatives Credit Union that offers an optional Hours account.

One factor in the attrition of Hours programs is that community groups failed to anticipate the start-up time and costs involved in promoting and sustaining a new currency issue.

Time Dollars, Time Banks (UK)

Following a long illness during which the services of others were critical to his recovery, lawyer Edgar Cahn devised a program called Time Dollars. Time Dollars are used to record the good deeds of neighbors for each other. Old, young, handicapped, and marginalized, all have some service to contribute to their community and so can earn and bank Time Dollars for occasions when they are in need. In order for Time Dollar Institutes to maintain tax-exempt status as charities, Time Dollar transactions are generally limited to what would be called "the gift economy," excluding commercial economic exchanges. Nevertheless, Time Dollars have shown to be an extraordinary tool for weaving values such as reciprocity, trust, cooperation, and what Edgar calls “co-production” in a community. Numerous Time Dollar networks are active throughout the US and the UK.

LETS (Local Economic Trading Systems)

Michael Linton founded the first LETS program in the early 1980s on Vancouver Island in Canada. LETS programs were created as a simple debit and credit system, denominated in the national currency. Consumers wishing to purchase goods or services offered through the LETS program would simply phone in a transaction to a central coordinator and their LETS account would be debited and the seller’s account credited. Producers would then spend their credits with other members in the system. The system was essentially self-regulated with members issuing their own line of credit at the point of making a purchase.

LETS programs are by far the most popular local currency systems throughout the world, spawning various adaptations. LETS development has been slow in the US, however. IRS law recognizes LETS programs as barter systems and as such requires system managers to report the total value of transactions for each individual to the Internal Revenue Service. This kind of management has proven costly and burdensome for start up systems, discouraging broad replication in this country up until this point.

Self-Financing Scrip

In 1989, after being denied a bank loan, the owner of The Deli in Great Barrington, Massachusetts, issued “Deli Dollars” as a way to finance the move from one location to another. Customers bought Deli Dollars for $8 to be redeemed for $10 worth of soup and sandwiches at a later date. It was not the first time scrip had been used as a self-financing tool for a small business, but Deli Dollars caught the attention of international media including CNN, NBC, CBS, and Tokyo TV, giving new energy to the local currency movement.

Other small businesses in Great Barrington issued their own notes to eager customers, demonstrating that citizens working together can create independent, low-cost methods of making micro-credit loans that double as a local currency.

Multiple-Store Notes/Customer Loyalty Scrip

In 1991 in Great Barrington seventy merchants worked with the Chamber of Commerce to issue BerkShares. During a six-week period, customers collected one BerkShare for every $10 spent at one of the stores. Then during a designated three-day redemption period, BerkShares could be spent as cash for store items, creating a spirit of festivity on Main Street. Again there are many variations on this simple approach in which multiple businesses reward their regular customers through discount notes.

In some areas such as Toronto, Canada, and the Salt Spring Island off of Vancouver, consumers initiate the exchange through conversion of federal notes to a local currency traded exclusively at regional stores.


Economists have long debated monetary theory, putting forth different arguments about how money should be placed in circulation. Many involved in the local currency movement are at the same time interested in alternative or complementary national and international currencies. Some of these interests were represented at the conference.

Commodity Backed Currencies

For centuries fiscal conservatives have advocated for a currency backed by something of perceived value such as gold and silver as a way to discourage the over-issue that leads to inflation. Others have suggested backing in a basket of commodities such as grains, vegetable oils, fossil fuels, and minerals. The Liberty Dollar is a contemporary private, for-profit revival of the effort to create a gold and silver backed currency.

Electronic Trading Tools

The Internet and other new technologies such as “smart cards” have opened the possibility of trading without use of traditional forms of money. Many inventive individuals are suggesting ways of linking these electronic cards, which are primarily tools to facilitate consumer credit, to businesses with defined missions, such as merchants of green products.

The majority of these applications are still on the drawing board, but their developers have imagined including aspects of customer loyalty notes and other discount benefits as incentives for consumers to join. Most are denominated in US dollars though The Terra Trade Reference Currency proposed by Bernard Lietaer is exploring an electronic trading card with transactions denominated in a basket of commodities held by global corporations.

Barter Exchange Systems

Our earliest experience of barter is the simple exchange of goods or services between two people. However there is a thriving international world of commercial barter exchanges. These systems can involve complex multiple trades. While most of these systems denominate trades in US dollars, some are introducing their own measure of exchange functioning much like a currency.

In 1934, Basel, Switzerland became headquarters to a highly successful Swiss business-to-business barter exchange system known as “WIR,” (German for “We”). Consumers are excluded from participation. Trades are denominated in WIR and businesses can “bank” credits for future transaction. Members are given discount incentives for trading within the system. System administrators are authorized to extend credit (make loans in WIR) to businesses meeting the system’s economic criteria. The WIR network is credited with stabilizing the Swiss economy.

Other barter groups rely on inventories of excess capacity, offering these inventories in trade at discounts to members. Some commercial barter groups are considering ways to expand their trade to include consumers, thereby functioning like a currency within a defined trading arena.


All of the innovative programs described during the conference grew out of a series of private and public discussions on the nature of money, its role in the economic system, and its effect on society and culture. All of the plenary and workshop presentations touched on this subject in some way; some focused on it.


We were privileged to have a number of presenters from aboard who reported on the complex of local currency programs in their regions.


The varieties of local currency programs, as outlined above, involve three very different kinds of money. One is consumer credit that facilitates the ability of individuals to purchase needed goods and services. The second is gift money recording our generosity to others. The gift economy builds very real links in a community, strengthening the social and cultural fabric and contributing to the quality of life, but does not directly enter into the creation and exchange of goods and services. The third kind of money is what is commonly known as investment capital. This is money needed for business start-ups and expansion, capital for the means of production as distinct from monthly operating costs. When Jane Jacobs, the renowned regional planner, portrayed regional currencies as an elegant tool for creation of import-replacing businesses, she had this third kind of money in mind. In the future all three forms of money will be essential to an overall strategy for building healthy local economies.

What should we expect from the local currency movement in the near term?

Certainly new innovation in consumer-credit systems--supporting “Buy Local First” programs, and providing incentives for consumers to come back to the storefronts on their Main Streets.
Greater cooperation between the highly popular Time Dollar systems and the consumer credit systems in which administrative capabilities are shared, outreach in the local community is shared, and technology is shared.
At the same time it will be essential to apply our collective creativity to the problem of how communities can issue local currencies in the form of no-interest loans to finance businesses producing goods now imported from afar.


There is much work ahead. All of those who gathered at the conference are engaged in creating solutions to the growing problems of globalization--solutions that will link us ever more directly with the people and land of our own communities. The conference was convened to honor and support this emerging era of vibrant citizen activism.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Free Online Course on Environmental Science:

Course Outline

Click this link to enter the course

  1. Unit 1: Earth's Systems
    1. Chapter 1: Flow of Energy
      1. Lesson 1: Introduction
      2. Lesson 2: Forms of Energy
      3. Lesson 3: Sources and Sinks
      4. Lesson 4: Conservation of Energy
      5. Lesson 5: Energy Units
    2. Chapter 2: The Cycling of Matter
      1. Lesson 6: Introduction
      2. Lesson 7: Water Cycle
      3. Lesson 8: Carbon Cycle
      4. Lesson 9: Nitrogen Cycle
      5. Lesson 10: Phosphorus Cycle
    3. Chapter 3: The Solid Earth
      1. Lesson 11: Introduction
      2. Lesson 12: Earth's Formation & Structure
      3. Lesson 13: Geologic Time Scale
      4. Lesson 14: The Lithosphere & Plate Tectonics
      5. Lesson 15: Geological Disturbances
      6. Lesson 16: Rocks & the Rock Cycle
      7. Lesson 17: Soil Formation
    4. Chapter 4: The Atmosphere
      1. Lesson 18: Introduction
      2. Lesson 19: Atmospheric Structure
      3. Lesson 20: Solar Radiation
      4. Lesson 21: Wind
      5. Lesson 22: Weather
      6. Lesson 23: Precipitation
      7. Lesson 24: Climate
    5. Chapter 5: The Biosphere
      1. Lesson 25: Introduction
      2. Lesson 26: Organisms
      3. Lesson 27: Population/Communities
      4. Lesson 28: Ecosystems
      5. Lesson 29: Biomes
      6. Lesson 30: Evolution of Life
  2. Unit 2: Human Population Dynamics
    1. Chapter 6: History and Global Distribution
      1. Lesson 31: Introduction
      2. Lesson 32: Population Growth
      3. Lesson 33: Population Demographics
      4. Lesson 34: Patterns of Resource Use
    2. Chapter 7: Carrying Capacity
      1. Lesson 35: Introduction
      2. Lesson 36: Effects of Technology and the Environment
      3. Lesson 37: Effect of Standard of Living
    3. Chapter 8: Cultural and Economic Influences
      1. Lesson 38: Introduction
      2. Lesson 39: Economic Factors
      3. Lesson 40: Cultural Factors
  3. Unit 3: Natural Resources
    1. Chapter 9: Water
      1. Lesson 41: Introduction
      2. Lesson 42: Agricultural Water Use
      3. Lesson 43: Domestic and Industrial Water Use
      4. Lesson 44: Control of Water Resources
    2. Chapter 10: Minerals
      1. Lesson 45: Introduction
      2. Lesson 46: Economic Value of Minerals
      3. Lesson 47: Mineral Deposits
      4. Lesson 48: Mineral Utilization
      5. Lesson 49: Mineral Sufficiency and the Future
    3. Chapter 11: Soils
      1. Lesson 50: Introduction
      2. Lesson 51: Soil Profile
      3. Lesson 52: Soil Characteristics
      4. Lesson 53: Soil Fertility and pH
      5. Lesson 54: Soil Degradation
      6. Lesson 55: Soil Conservation
    4. Chapter 12: Biological
      1. Lesson 56: Introduction
      2. Lesson 57: Natural Areas
      3. Lesson 58: Genetic Diversity
      4. Lesson 59: Food Resources
    5. Chapter 13: Non-renewable
      1. Lesson 60: Introduction
      2. Lesson 61: Coal
      3. Lesson 62: Oil
      4. Lesson 63: Natural Gas
      5. Lesson 64: Oil Shale and Tar Sands
      6. Lesson 65: Nuclear Power
    6. Chapter 14: Renewable
      1. Lesson 66: Introduction
      2. Lesson 67: Solar Energy
      3. Lesson 68: Hydroelectric Energy
      4. Lesson 69: Wind Power
      5. Lesson 70: Biomass Energy
      6. Lesson 71: Geothermal Energy
    7. Chapter 15: Land
      1. Lesson 72: Introduction
      2. Lesson 73: Residential and Commercial Lands
      3. Lesson 74: Agricultural and Forest Lands
      4. Lesson 75: Recreational and Wilderness Lands
  4. Unit 4: Environmental Quality
    1. Chapter 16: Air, Water, and Soil
      1. Lesson 76: Introduction
      2. Lesson 77: Air Pollutants
      3. Lesson 78: Water Pollutants
      4. Lesson 79: Soil Pollutants
    2. Chapter 17: Solid Waste
      1. Lesson 80: Introduction
      2. Lesson 81: Sources and Types of Solid Waste
      3. Lesson 82: Waste Disposal Methods
      4. Lesson 83: Waste Management
    3. Chapter 18: Human Health
      1. Lesson 84: Introduction
      2. Lesson 85: Agents
      3. Lesson 86: Effects
      4. Lesson 87: Relative Risks
  5. Unit 5: Global Changes
    1. Chapter 19: First-Order Effects
      1. Lesson 88: Introduction
      2. Lesson 89: Atmosphere
      3. Lesson 90: Oceans
      4. Lesson 91: Biota
    2. Chapter 20: Higher-Order Effects
      1. Lesson 92: Introduction
      2. Lesson 93: Atmosphere
      3. Lesson 94: Oceans
      4. Lesson 95: Biota
  6. Unit 6: Environment and Society
    1. Chapter 21: Economic Forces
      1. Lesson 96: Introduction
      2. Lesson 97: External Costs
      3. Lesson 98: Cost-Benefit Analyses
    2. Chapter 22: Culture and Aesthetic
      1. Lesson 99: Introduction
      2. Lesson 100: Categorizing Countries
      3. Lesson 101: Environmental Justice
      4. Lesson 102: Indigenous People
    3. Chapter 23: Environmental Ethics
      1. Lesson 103: Introduction
      2. Lesson 104: Sustainable Ethic
      3. Lesson 105: Land Ethic
      4. Lesson 106: Hetch Hetchy
      5. Lesson 107: The Tragedy of the Commons
    4. Chapter 24: Environmental Laws and Regulations
      1. Lesson 108: Introduction
      2. Lesson 109: Federal Laws
      3. Lesson 110: State Laws
      4. Lesson 111: International Treaties and Conventions
    5. Chapter 25: Issues and Options
      1. Lesson 112: Introduction
      2. Lesson 113: Resource Use
      3. Lesson 114: Restoration Ecology
      4. Lesson 115: Environmental Involvement

Global Environment Outlook: environment for development (GEO-4)

The fourth Global Environment Outlook: environment for development (GEO-4) assessment is a comprehensive and authoritative UN report on environment, development and human well-being, providing incisive analysis and information for decision making.

French Full Report ( 21.2 MB)
Chinese (available soon)






Nick Nuttall
UNEP Spokesperson
Office of the Executive Director
Tel: +254 20 7623084
Mobile: +254 733 632755, or when Traveling: +41 79 596 57 37

Anne-France White
Associate Information Officer
UNEP Division of Communication and Public Information
Tel: +254 20 7623088

UNEP Regional Information Officers
GEO-4 Collaborators