Author: Hubert Engelbrecht

250 Years of Industrial Consumption and Transformation of Nature: Impacts on Global Ecosystems and Life

eBook: US $39 Special Offer (PDF + Printed Copy): US $151
Printed Copy: US $131
Library License: US $156
ISBN: 978-1-68108-602-6 (Print)
ISBN: 978-1-68108-601-9 (Online)
Year of Publication: 2017
DOI: 10.2174/97816810860191170101


Anthropogenic changes in the environment, caused by 250 years of economic growth and utilization of fuel and mineral resources, have considerably impacted the natural environment. The resulting physical and chemical alterations to the Earth's sphere and our adaptive responses in the biosphere are detailed in this reference book. Readers will learn about concepts relevant to Earth’s history, the evolution of life, economy, ecology, environmental history, biology, and medicine and how these concepts can be linked to environmental change. The scope of this interdisciplinary work entails to convey the true degree of responsibility for the universal consequences of ecosystem degradation resulting from industrial processing, human consumption and the transformation of natural sites due to industrialization and urbanization.

Topics covered in the book include:

  1. -ecosystem transformations by natural and anthropogenic forces
  2. -the Anthropocene epoch
  3. - a short history of industrialization
  4. - environmental sites and the impact of socio-economic influences
  5. -the current environmental crisis

This textbook is intended for graduate students in economics, civil engineering, architecture, agronomics, forestry, technical and mining sciences, political sciences, business studies and humanities. General readers who wish to understand the basic philosophy behind environmental studies and their relation to human activity can also benefit from this book.

Indexed in: BIOSIS Previewsts, Book Citation Index.


This is a very ambitious book. The author, Hubert Engelbrecht takes a holistic view on geology, minerals extraction, and the hugely interlinked webs of civilizational use of the resources. He looks into the processes and consequences of 250 years of industrialization for minerals, ecosystems and life. This concentrated synopsis, which attempts to consider all kinds of interactions between humans and nature, opens the eyes for the enormous sizes and momenta of transformations generated.

The author chooses to introduce his subject by describing how natural cycles of matter and energy were modulated by geological and extra-terrestrial processes as well as by evolving life. He distinguishes two kinds of life, one evolving seemingly in a deterministic manner and generating the oxygenated atmosphere; and the other culminating, in a non-deterministic manner, in intelligent organisms capable of escaping from the constraints of photosynthetic energy: the miracle of the emergence of humankind creating innumerable artificial niches in the technosphere.

After a short history of industrialization, the author brings the reader down to the basics: how core and lifeblood of industry work and how its output grew with time: mining, processing and further refinement of immense amounts of mineral commodities, used to meet the demands of 7.5 billion humans.

But nothing came without side-effects. Extraction and processing of minerals and the industrial use of biological resources caused multiple and serious environmental impacts - e.g. atmospheric warming, acidification of oceans, eutrophication of lakes, pollution, deforestation, and an accelerated loss of biodiversity. In a subchapter on atmospheric turnovers, natural and artificial processes are compared.

For a strategic approach to reduce unwanted damage, the author observes the gap between the amount of resources extracted and processed and the amounts safely discarded or recycled. It is the large number of open loops that impair our ecosystems and indeed our health.

The author finishes with listing up decisive reasons, which caused the actual ecological crisis and mentions ideologies, economic systems as well as innate and learned behavior of humans. This book is recommended for reading for students and professionals of engineering, chiefly mining and civil engineering, of business economics, and indeed of political sciences and humanities.

Professor Ernst Ulrich von Weizsäcker
Former Co-Chair of the International Resource Panel,
January, 2017


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