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 $138
Printed Copy: US $119
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.


The purpose of this book is to make public discussions on the part of the extractive industries' play: they are primary economic drivers and carry a considerable part of responsibility to promote sustainable practices and environmental protection, as well as controlling speed and direction of the transformations. Their products are indispensable for the economy and they provide positive contributions - creation, knowledge, culture, and life, - but also risk, conflict, hazard and destruction. The current, irreversible transformations on planetary scale are part of the most complex, singular and enormous experiment ever conducted. This book offers a responsible, generalist view on rising global ecological problems caused by transformations resulting from long-term industrial extraction of mineral raw materials, their manifold utilizations, and rising number of individuals consuming them in ever increasing amounts. Climate change is only one problem among many that were caused by significant alterations of natural cycles, especially the carbon, nitrogen, and water cycles. Other problems, all characterized by violations of precaution, prudence, mindfulness and restraint, are unpredictable in the long-term. The unexpected side-effects, developmental speeds, trends, and extents of these problems are our moral responsibility to solve, though some may be irreversible. Many improvements were made during industrialization. But a grave cultural crisis arouse at the same time. Because it is unreasonable, insensitive, and at high risk, to cut and interfere on huge economic scale into a natural system: merely a few hundred years of techno-scientifical development cannot have resulted in sufficient knowledge of that system, which evolved and diversified infinitely in a time-abyss of ca. 4.5 Ga. Mankind overstrained itself by economizing the best from ingenious human brains (inventions, ideas) and from the earth (mineral commodities), resulting in incipient loss of control. It is unwise to damage ecosystems, which prospered on a planet orbiting in one of the very rare habitable zones in space. Engineering assessment and advice from the humane and ecological disciplines should be better included, because the fire of Prometheus entailed the serious consequence of the opening of Pandora's Box. This study intends to connect, as postulated by physicist H.-P. Dürr, profound expert knowledge with the broad and deep ranges of environmental geology and ecology, which are constituents of the science of consumption, conversion, and transformation of nature by humans. This interdisciplinary approach, which attempts to fully describe the complex human transformation of nature, occurred mentally from outside: i.e. virtually from space onto the globe, in order to obtain a general view on all areas affected by industrial development and to realistically represent magnitude, speed and momentum of the resulting changes.

Hubert Engelbrecht
Environmental Geology,