Publications

Areas of research

Some of our papers are available as PDF documents only. If you do not have a PDF reader installed, you can get Adobe Reader from the Abode website, www.adobe.com. You can also request a paper hard copy from our office via email to phe@rockefeller.edu.

General Environment

Quandaries of Forest Area, Volume, Biomass, and Carbon Explored with the Forest Identity (PDF)
P. E. Waggoner and J. H. Ausubel
Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station Bulletin 1011: 1-13, 2007
The Forest Identity defines the four valued forest attributes of area, growing stock volume, biomass and sequestered carbon in terms of the four measurable variables of area, density of volume per hectare, an allometric ratio, and the carbon concentration in biomass. A single, synoptic chart maps the rise and fall of the variables and attributes of the Identity and graphically separates nations with improving versus deteriorating forest attributes. Exercises examine rates of change in 50 nations with the greatest reported growing stock volume, in European and African nations around the Mediterranean and in Central American and Caribbean lands. Other exercises examine national variations cloaked by global sums and transparently calculate carbon sequestered in nations’ forests. Final exercises examine the correlation between timber harvest and deforestation and the related advantage of harvesting fast growing, warm forests or plantations. The frequency of expanding forests and the advantage of harvesting fast growing forests sustains hope that deforestation accompanied by deteriorating attributes is not inevitable.
The Future Environment for the Energy Business (PDF)
Jesse H. Ausubel
APPEA Journal (Part 2): 487-495, 2007
Determinants of the future environment for the energy business include the substitution of technologies and products, long-term trend toward decarbonization, rise of methane, dominance of India and China in new demand, diffusion of compact very powerful zero emission power plants (ZEEPs) for electricity and mini-ZEPPS for cars, increasing offshore operations, growing hydrogen business sometimes in alliance with nuclear power generators, and a benign attitude toward the ill-starred renewables which on scales that matter are in practice not green. The true green strategy is a compact energy system that harms neither land nor sea.
Renewable and Nuclear Heresies (PDF)
Jesse H. Ausubel
Int. J. Nuclear Governance, Economy and Ecology 1(3):229-243, 2007.
Renewables are not green. To reach the scale at which they would contribute importantly to meeting global energy demand, renewable sources of energy, such as wind, water and biomass, cause serious environmental harm. Measuring renewables in watts per square metre that each source could produce smashes these environmental idols. Nuclear energy is green. However, in order to grow, the nuclear industry must extend out of its niche in baseload electric power generation, form alliances with the methane industry to introduce more hydrogen into energy markets, and start making hydrogen itself. Technologies succeed when economies of scale form part of their conditions of evolution. Like computers, to grow larger, the energy system must now shrink in size and cost. Considered in watts per square metre, nuclear has astronomical advantages over its competitors.
Earth at Night - If The Rest of the World Lived Like America
N. M .Victor and J. H. Ausubel
Electronic Journal of Sustainable Development 1(1),2007

Also available as a PDF file

How would the view from a plane circling the world at night brighten if everyone in the world lived like Americans?
Returning forests analyzed with the forest identity (PDF)
P.E. Kauppi, J.H. Ausubel, J.-Y. Fang, A.S. Mather, R.A. Sedjo, and P.E. Waggoner
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA, 103:17574-17579 (Nov 2006); published online before print November 13 2006, 10.1073/pnas.0608343103
Amid widespread reports of deforestation, some nations have nevertheless experienced transitions from deforestation to reforestation. In a causal relationship, the Forest Identity relates the carbon sequestered in forests to the changing variables of national or regional forest area, growing stock density per area, biomass per growing stock volume, and carbon concentration in the biomass. It quantifies the sources of change of a nation's forests. The Identity also logically relates the quantitative impact on forest expanse of shifting timber harvest to regions and plantations where density grows faster. Among 50 nations with extensive forests reported in the Food and Agriculture Organization's comprehensive Global Forest Resources Assessment 2005, no nation where annual per capita gross domestic product exceeded $4,600 had a negative rate of growing stock change. Using the Forest Identity and national data from the Assessment report, a single synoptic chart arrays the 50 nations with coordinates of the rates of change of basic variables, reveals both clusters of nations and outliers, and suggests trends in returning forests and their attributes. The Forest Identity also could serve as a tool for setting forest goals and illuminating how national policies accelerate or retard the forest transitions that are diffusing among nations.
Foresters and DNA (PDF)
Jesse H. Ausubel, Paul E. Waggoner, and Iddo Wernick
Williams, C.G., Landscapes, Genomics and Transgenic Forests, Kluwer, Dordrecht
Would editing a few bytes of the genetic message for a tree to fit human desires do harm or good? To meet demands of larger populations and changing diets, farmers have used a series of innovations to lift yields and thus reduce the area of land needed to support a person. Since 1950 rising yields have stabilized land for agriculture and now promise a Great Restoration of nature on land spared. Foresters have also lifted yields and could lift them much higher, thus sparing natural forests while meeting demand for wood products, whose growth is anyway slowing. While weak demand, numerous worries, and vague promises will slow penetration of genetically modified trees, any technology that improves spatial efficiency has appeal, and editing DNA could lift yields. Both farmers and foresters must work precisely, using fewer hectares and more bits. Fortunately, foresters have several decades in which to test and monitor their practices before genetically modified trees will diffuse widely.
Will the Rest of the World Live Like America? (PDF)
Jesse H. Ausubel
Technology In Society 26(2/3):343-360 (2004)
Living like America means producing and consuming at or near the level of the present top consumer. For material well-being as well as equity, many wish and workfor a world in which high economic activity pervades. Others fear environmental harm from the product of global population times the affluence of America. I ask: Has the world ever had uniform income at the level of the top consumer? Do swift, cheap transport and communication equalize income? Historically, incomes vary for the reason that income crowns the successful completion of a series of multiplicative tasks, causing a skewed distribution. Despite lessening physical obstacles, social wrinkles maintain distributions broad and skewed, as the diffusion of railroads, cars, and electricity shows. As incomes rise, however, economic, social, and environmental requirements and capacities grow to lessen harm. We are likely to live in a cleaner world, with sustained inequalities.
Maglevs and the Vision of St. Hubert
Jesse H. Ausubel
In Challenges of a Changing Earth, W. Steffen, J. Jaeger, D. J. Carson, and C. Bradshaw (eds.), Springer, Heidelberg, 2002, pp.175-182.
How Much Will Feeding More and Wealthier People Encroach on Forests?
Paul E. Waggoner and Jesse H. Ausubel
Population and Development Review 27(2):239-257 (June 2001).
On Sparing Farmland and Spreading Forest
Jesse H. Ausubel
In Clark, T. and R. Staebler, eds., Forestry at the Great Divide: Proceedings of the Society of American Foresters 2001 Convention, Society of American Foresters, Bethesda MD, 2002, pp. 127-138.
Restoring the Forests
David G. Victor and Jesse H. Ausubel
Foreign Affairs 79(6):127-144, November/December 2000.
The Great Reversal: Nature's Chance to Restore Land and Sea
Jesse H. Ausubel
Technology in Society 22:289-302, 2000.
Resources Are Elastic
Jesse H. Ausubel
Earth Matters, a magazine published by the Earth Institute at Columbia University, pp. 46-47, Winter 1999/2000.
Because the Brain Does Not Change, Technology Must
Jesse H. Ausubel
In Production Efficiencies: The Engineers' Report, American Association of Engineering Societies, Washington, D.C., pp. 14-18. Also published in: IEEE Aerospace and Electronic SYSTEMS 14(10):3-6, October 1999.
Five Worthy Ways to Spend Large Amounts of Money for Research on Environment and Resources
Jesse H. Ausubel
The Bridge 29(3):4-16, Fall 1999.
Reasons to Worry about the Human Environment
Jesse H. Ausubel
Cosmos (Journal of the Cosmos Club of Washington, DC) 8:1-12, 1998. Republished in Technology in Society 21:217-231, 1999.
Thoughts are presented on climate and biodiversity, behavioral poisons, libido, depopulation, falling work, rejection of science, and the twilight of the west.
The Environment for Future Business
Jesse H. Ausubel
Pollution Prevention Review 8(1):39-52, Winter 1998. Republished in Environmental Regulation and Permitting 9(2):251-62, 1999.
Resources and Environment in the 21st Century: Seeing Past the Phantoms
Jesse H. Ausubel
World Energy Council Journal, pp. 8-16, July 1998.
The marathon of economic development kicks up clouds of questions about resource and environmental stresses. In the end, they come down to two. Will there be enough resources to serve humanity? Will the environmental fallout from the use of resources harm other life and us? The expected answer to each question is "yes." As I will report, my search of the book of history and my projections for the 21st century based on the historical patterns I find suggest that many of the usual specters of shortage and fallout are phantoms. Instead, I see a society learning to use resources efficiently and cleanly. Keys described along the way include market substitution, precision agriculture, dematerialization, decarbonization, and industrial ecology. Unfortunately, I will not leave you, the reader, without worries. But, I hope to shift attention from the spell-binding phantoms to real stresses that we should sweat to relieve. Let us not exhaust ourselves chasing phantoms, when the race before us is anyway long and hard.
International Conflicts over Environment: Scientists' Roles and Opportunities
Jesse H. Ausubel
In Scientific Cooperation, State Conflict: The Role of Scientists in Mitigating International Discord, A. L. de Cerreno and A. Keynan, eds, Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences (866): 253-258, 1998.
The paper presents brief cases of historical or prospective conflict relating to environment and resources: cod fish, Antarctica, atmospheric weapons testing, acid deposition, fresh water, and climate change. Three conclusions are drawn: Taking national boundaries off political agendas is a step toward stable peace, and engineers and scientists can help make spatial boundaries much less crucial; a great problem in stable peace is fear of betrayal, and international cooperation between scientists may help reduce the payoffs of betrayal and strengthen taboos against it; and stable peace relies on national self-interest, and, while resources that cross boundaries may heighten conflict, the diffusion of pollutants on the wind, in rivers, and in the seas may evoke countervailing cooperation.
Environmental Trends (PDF)
Jesse H. Ausubel
Issues in Science and Technology 13(2):78-81, winter 1996-1997.
Technological Trajectories and the Human Environment
Jesse H. Ausubel and H. Dale Langford, eds.
National Academy, Washington DC, 1997. Also appeared as special issue, "The Liberation of the Environment," Daedalus 125(3), Summer 1996.
The Liberation of the Environment
Jesse H. Ausubel
In Technological Trajectories and the Human Environment, J.H. Ausubel and H.D. Langford, eds., National Academy, Washington DC, 1997, pp. 1-13. Also appeared in Daedalus 125(3):1-17, Summer 1996. An earlier version was published by The Collegium Budapest, Budapest, Hungary, A krnyezet felszabadtasa (The Liberation of the Environment, in Hungarian) Magyar Tudomany CII(2):164-171, 1995. Also appeared in Portuguese, A Liberacao do Meio Ambiente, Tecbahia 12(2):29-41, 1997
Productivity, Electricity, Science: Powering a Green Future
Jesse H. Ausubel
The Electricity Journal 9(3):54-60, April 1996.
Can Technology Spare the Earth?
Jesse H. Ausubel
American Scientist 84(2):166-178, March-April 1996. Republished in Current Perspectives in Geology, Fourth Edition, Michael McKinney, Robert L. Tolliver, Parri Shariff, eds., Wadsworth, Boston, MA, 1998.
Evolving efficiencies in our use of resources suggest that technology can restore the environment even as population grows.
Lightening the Tread of Population on the Land: American Examples
Paul E. Waggoner, Jesse H. Ausubel, Iddo K. Wernick
Population and Development Review 22(3):531-545, 1996.
People transform land by building, logging and farming. The less land humans use, the more remains in its natural state. The authors search the past century for principles and trends influencing land use in the United States and contemplate the future when Americans might number an additional 100 million. Examples from American cities, counties, and states suggest that land covered by the built environment increases less than in proportion to population. For example, despite the rising use of paper relative to gross national product, the declining use of lumber combined with improved forestry kept the area of forest land fairly steady as population rose. Similarly, rising yields and changing tastes have countered the impact of rising population and wealth on cropland area. All told, a lightening tread of Americans on the land in the next century could spare for nature over 90 million hectares, an area equal to 100 times the size of Yellowstone National Park.
Better Risk Information for Communities (PDF)
Iddo K. Wernick
Risk Analysis 16(5):601-603, 1996.
The Environment Since 1970
Jesse H. Ausubel, David G. Victor, Iddo K. Wernick
Consequences: The Nature and Implications of Environmental Change 1(3):2-15, 1995.
Much has changed in the environment and how it is managed in the quarter century since the first Earth Day in April of 1970. Environmental awareness has undeniably increased, and while progress has been uneven, both in the U.S. and among other countries in the world, a number of indicators show marked improvement.
Community Risk Profiles: A Tool to Improve Environment and Community Health
Iddo K. Wernick, editor
Published by the Program for the Human Environment, The Rockefeller University, New York, NY, 1995.
How Much Land Can Ten Billion People Spare for Nature?
Paul E. Waggoner
Task Force Report #121, Council for Agricultural Science and Technology, Ames IA, February 1994. Also available from the Program for the Human Environment, The Rockefeller University, New York, NY.
Directions for Environmental Technologies (PDF)
Jesse H. Ausubel
Technology in Society 16(2):139-154, 1994; Also in Impresa Ambiente 4:8-16, 1994 (in Italian).
Over the long term, Green Evolution will occur because sociotechnical systems advance a few percent per year along environmentally desirable directions or trajectories. Burning carbon and heavy use of materials create many environmental concerns. Thus, critical directions include decarbonization and dematerialization. Decarbonization, which is well established, is the decline in tons of carbon used to generate a particular amount of energy. Dematerialization is the decline in intensity used to produce particular economic goods. Together, decarbonization and dematerialization can key a superior industry ecology, an economically more efficient and environmentally less harmful network of industrial processes. Annual corporate environmental audits might move the system more rapidly and steadily in the favored directions.
2020 Vision (also known as "Eight Billion People") (PDF)
Jesse H. Ausubel
The Sciences 33(6):14-19, 1993. Also Published in Science and Technology for Eight Billion People, Europe's Responsibility, P.H Mettler, ed., New Europe Publications, London, pp. 307-319, 1995.
In little more than twenty-five years eight billion people will share our crowded planet. Science and technology will be their brightest hope.
Verification of International Environmental Agreements
Jesse H. Ausubel and David G. Victor
Annual Review of Energy and the Environment 17:1-43, 1992.
Technology and Environment
Jesse H. Ausubel and H.E. Sladovich, eds.
National Academy, Washington D.C., 221 pp., 1989.
Technology and Environment: An Overview (PDF)
Jesse H. Ausubel, R.A. Frosch, and R. Herman
In Technology and Environment, J.H. Ausubel and H.E. Sladovich, eds., National Academy, Washington DC, 1989, pp. 1-21.
Regularities in Technological Development: An Environmental View (PDF)
Jesse H. Ausubel
In Technology and Environment, J.H. Ausubel and H.E. Sladovich, eds., National Academy, Washington DC, 1989, pp. 70-91.
Economics in the Air: An Introduction to Economic Issues of the Atmosphere and Climate (PDF)
Jesse H. Ausubel
IIASA Working Paper WP-80-092

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Industrial ecology

Dematerialization: Variety, caution, and persistence (PDF)
Ausubel, J.H. and P.E. Waggoner
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA, 105:12774-12779 (2008); published online before print August 26 2008, 10.1073/pnas.0806099105 D
Dematerialization, represented by declining consumption per GDP of energy or of goods, offers some hope for rising environmental quality with development. The declining proportion of income spent on staples as affluence grows, which income elasticity <1.0 measures, makes dematerialization widespread. Further, as learning improves efficiency of resource use, the intensity of environmental impact per production of staples often declines. We observe that combinations of low income elasticity for staples and of learning by producers cause a variety of dematerializations and declining intensities of impact, from energy use and carbon emission to food consumption and fertilizer use, globally and in countries ranging from the United States and France to China, India, Brazil, and Indonesia. Because dematerialization and intensity of impact are ratios of parameters that may be variously defined and are sometimes difficult to estimate, their fluctuations must be interpreted cautiously. Nevertheless, substantial declining intensity of impact, and especially, dematerialization persisted between 1980 and 2006.
Dematerialization: Variety, caution, and persistence (PDF)
Ausubel, J.H. and P.E. Waggoner
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA105:12774-12779 (2008); published online before print August 26 2008, 10.1073/pnas.0806099105
Dematerialization, represented by declining consumption per GDP of energy or of goods, offers some hope for rising environmental quality with development. The declining proportion of income spent on staples as affluence grows, which income elasticity <1.0 measures, makes dematerialization widespread. Further, as learning improves efficiency of resource use, the intensity of environmental impact per production of staples often declines. We observe that combinations of low income elasticity for staples and of learning by producers cause a variety of dematerializations and declining intensities of impact, from energy use and carbon emission to food consumption and fertilizer use, globally and in countries ranging from the United States and France to China, India, Brazil, and Indonesia. Because dematerialization and intensity of impact are ratios of parameters that may be variously defined and are sometimes difficult to estimate, their fluctuations must be interpreted cautiously. Nevertheless, substantial declining intensity of impact, and especially, dematerialization persisted between 1980 and 2006.
Dematerialization: Variety, caution, and persistence (PDF)

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA 105:12774--12779 (2008); published online before print 26 August 2008, 10.1073/pnas.0806099105
Industrial Ecology for Leverage to Let Loose Less Cadmium (PDF)
Jesse H. Ausubel, Iddo K. Wernick, Anthony M. Barret, and Paul Waggoner
Progress in Industrial Ecology 3(6):522-537, 2006
Comprehending how humans let toxic cadmium (Cd) loose in their environment demands analysing zinc (Zn) production, the source of most mined Cd. Analysis of unaccounted Cd with the ImPACT identity as a product of population, affluence, intensity of Zn use, and the used fraction of Cd in Zn ore shows that the used fraction exerted the most leverage. A simulation of emission from Zn mining and processing, refinement of Cd and manufacture of its products, and their use, discard, and recycling quantifies opportunities for less unaccounted Cd. Although acting indirectly, recycling Zn has considerable leverage for loosing less Cd into our environment. Making more Cd products last longer and containing exhausted products also helps. Although cutting Cd use and raising recycling lower emission, they increase the unaccounted Cd. This application of industrial ecology supports encompassing a spectrum of impacts lest concentrating on one merely displace harm to another impact.
A Framework for Sustainability Science: A Renovoted IPAT Identity
P.E. Waggoner, and J. H. Ausubel
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA, 99(12):7860-7865 (June 2002).
Nitrogen on the Land: Overcoming the Worries - Lifting fertilizer efficiency and preserving land for nonfarming uses
Charles R. Frink, Paul E. Waggoner, and Jesse H. Ausubel
Pollution Prevention Review 11(3):77-82 (Summer 2001)
The Forester's Lever: Industrial Ecology and Wood Products
Iddo K. Wernick, Paul E. Waggoner, and Jesse H. Ausubel
Journal of Forestry 98(10):8-13, October 2000.
Nitrogen Fertilizer: Retrospect and Prospect
Charles R. Frink, Paul E. Waggoner, and Jesse H. Ausubel
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA 96:1175-1180, 1999.
The rising fertilizer use accompanying more people eating more has been called exponential and prompted fears of polluted water and consequent methemoglobinemia and hypoxia. It also has raised alarm about greenhouse warming and an altered global N cycle and thus primary production and diversity of vegetation. In this plethora of issues we concentrate on a few, beginning with the fundamental one of how fast N fertilizer use has risen in the world and in an industrial nation, the United States, where early, rapid adoption may foretell the course in the world. We also shall explore how much deposition of N from the atmosphere has increased. After examining the changing ratio of fertilizer N application to its intended incorporation in crop yield, we shall discuss prospects for more or less N fertilizer by 2070 when the earth's farmers may be feeding 10 billion people and sparing more or less habitat for nature.
Industrial Ecology: A Coming of Age Story
Jesse H. Ausubel
Resources 130:14 (Winter 1998).
Industrial Ecology: Some Directions for Research
Iddo K. Wernick and Jesse H. Ausubel
With the Vishnu Group, The Rockefeller University and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, 1997.
The role of Industrial Ecology (IE) is to learn about the levers for lightening the impact on the environment of each person and each dollar of economic activity. This report sets out how diverse engineers, scientists, and investigators and practitioners in other fields can learn where some of the levers are, how they work, and how they might be improved and used.
Searching for Leverage to Conserve Forests: The Industrial Ecology of Wood Products in the U.S.
Iddo K. Wernick, Paul E. Waggoner, and Jesse H. Ausubel
Journal of Industrial Ecology 1(3):125-145, 1997.
The forest and the creatures it shelters exemplify nature, and logging exemplifies the impacts of humans on it. By the early 1990s Americans annually removed 70% more timber from the forest than in 1900. Growing population and affluence far outpaced this rise. Since 1900 U.S. population rose more than three times and gross domestic product (GDP) per person increased almost five. Despite more people, affluence, and timber removals, the area of U.S. forests remained constant over the century. Since mid-century, standing timber volume rose nearly 30%. The practices of consumers, millers, and foresters, responding to style, ethics, technology and the consequent economics, have each contributed to these outcomes . We examine the role of each of these actors in the industrial ecology of forests to reveal their leverage for improving environmental quality. Consumers lessened their intensity of use of wood products (wood products per GDP) during the century by 2.5% annually to substantially offset the expanding population and GDP per person. Sustaining the historic trend will level or lower timber consumption if population and affluence grow at expected rates. Millers became more efficient at getting products out of logs as well as utilizing wood residues and recycled fibers for their material or energy value. Given their already high efficiencies, millers face little opportunity to reduce future harvest of trees. Foresters provide leverage by influencing the environmental impact of logging and the long-term adequacy of timber supplies. By raising productivity they promise to use less forest land to grow and harvest timber. In the future, steady or declining demand for trees coupled to greater forest productivity appear likely to spare more U.S. forest land for sequestering carbon, ecosystem services, and habitat for nature.
The Virtual Ecology of Industry
Jesse H. Ausubel
Editorial in Journal of Industrial Ecology 1(1):10-11, 1997.
Materialization and Dematerialization: Measures and Trends
Iddo K. Wernick, Robert Herman, Shekhar Govind, and Jesse H. Ausubel
In Technological Trajectories and the Human Environment, J.H. Ausubel and H.D. Langford, eds., National Academy, Washington DC, 1997,135-156. Also appeared in Daedalus 125(3):171-198 (Summer 1996). Also appeared in Portuguese, Materialização e Desmaterialização: Limites e Tendências, Tecbahia 12(3):12-26, 1997.
Consuming Materials: The American Way (PDF)
Iddo K. Wernick
Technological Forecasting and Social Change 53:111-122, 1996.
Sustaining the U.S. economy requires larger inputs of materials, and their extraction, processing, and consumption affect the environment in many ways. In the United States, as in most industrialized countries, bulk materials consumption no longer runs in tandem with economic activity. Demand for raw materials in the richer countries has fallen well below the forecasts of decades ago, confounding predictions of dire shortage and reducing the projected income of countries that rely on mineral exports. Demographic shifts in the U.S. and individual consumer preferences drive greater and more varied consumption. Saturated markets and technological advances offer promise for reduction. Saturated markets and technological advances offer promise for reduction. The success of large-scale materials recycling depends on the economics of secondary materials recovery and the suitability of secondary materials for reuse. Powerful social and demographic forces that draw more materials into the system will vie with technological innovations intended to limit inputs in shaping the future path of materials consumption in the United States.
National Material Metrics for Industrial Ecology
Iddo K. Wernick and Jesse H. Ausubel
Resources Policy 21(3):189-198, 1995. Republished in Measures of Environmental Performance and Ecosystem Condition, P. Schulze (ed.), National Academy, Washington, D.C., 1999, pp. 157-174.
We present an assembly of metrics for monitoring environmental performance at the national level, based on the flow of materials through the US economy. To set the stage, we show a schematic rendering of national materials flows, identifying the most important flow components. We compare and contrast amounts of materials entering and exiting the economy, using weight as the common measure. Additionally, we relate physical data on materials consumption and disposal to monetary measures of national economic activity. Eight general classes and eighteen individual metrics comprise the set. For several, we provide quantitative examples. Our aim is to initiate a framework for assessing national materials use which helps prevent pollution, reduce waste and encourage efficient resource use.
National Materials Flows and the Environment
Iddo K. Wernick and Jesse H. Ausubel
Annual Review of Energy and the Environment 20:463-492, 1995.
The functioning of modern societies requires large flows of materials to satisfy human wants both directly and indirectly, for example, 50 kg per day per American. The nature of these flows determines their impact on the natural environment. We develop and test a comprehensive framework to order materials flows in the US economy. We assess and quantify inputs to the national economy outputs, foreign trade, and wastes from resource extraction, using mass measures of these flows components. The bulk of materials inputs satisfies demand for energy, construction, and food. Atmospheric emissions and materials embedded in long-lived structures dominate outputs, with smaller contributions from solid wastes and dissipated materials. Trade, accounting for approximately 10% of US materials flows, is dominated by bulk commodities such as fuel, food, and chemicals. Extractive wastes from fuel and nonfuel minerals account for more than double the amount of inputs and mostly remain at the site of generation. Metrics based on a consistent, periodic accounting of physical materials flows can provide a powerful means to assess environmental performance at the national level. Improvements in the collection and organization of the data supporting national material accounts will further their utility.
Dematerialization and Secondary Materials Recovery in the U.S.
Iddo K. Wernick
Journal of the Minerals, Metals, and Materials Society 46(4):39-42, 1994.
Industrial Ecology: Reflections on a Colloquium (PDF)
Jesse H. Ausubel
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 89(3):879-884, 1992.
Industrial ecology is the network of all industrial processes as they may interact with each other and live off each other, not only in the economic sense, but also in the sense of direct use of each other's material and energy wastes and products. This paper, which reflects upon the papers and discussions at the National Academy of Sciences Colloquium on Industrial Ecology on May 20-21, 1991, is structured around 10 questions. Do sociotechnical systems have long-range environmental goals? How is the concept of industrial ecology useful and timely? What are environmental technologies? Is there a systematic way to choose among alternatives for improving the ecology of technologies? What are ways to measure performance with respect to industrial ecology? What are the sources and rates of innovation in environmental technologies? How is the market economy performing with respect to industrial ecology? What will be the effect of the ecological modernization of the developed nations of the North on the developing countries of the South? How can creative interaction on environmental issues be fostered among diverse social groups? How must research and education change?
Dematerialization
Robert Herman, S.A. Ardekani, Jesse H. Ausubel
pp. 50-69 in Technology and Environment, J.H. Ausubel and H.E. Sladovich, eds., National Academy, Washington DC, 1989. Also in Technological Forecasting and Social Change 37(4):333-348, 1990.

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Energy

Big green energy machines (PDF)
Jesse H. Ausubel
The Industrial Physicist, 10(5), pp. 20-24.
How are we going to generate more power and decrease its impact on the environment?
The Evolution of Transport
Jesse H. Ausubel and Cesare Marchetti
The Industrial Physicist 7(2):20-24, April/May 2001.
Where is Energy Going?
Jesse H. Ausubel
The Industrial Physicist 6(1): 16-19, 2000 (February). The essay had appeared in Italian in the special millennial edition of the Italian financial newspaper, Il Sole/24 Ore, on 17 November 1999; also in Italian as Benvenuti nel millennio nucleare, pp.163-168 in Duemila: Verso una societa aperta, M. Moussanet, ed., Il Sole 24 Ore, Milano, 2000.
Toward Green Mobility: The Evolution of Transport
Jesse H. Ausubel, Cesare Marchetti, and Perrin S. Meyer
European Review 6(2):143-162, 1998.
We envision a transport system producing zero emissions and sparing the surface landscape, while people on average range hundreds of kilometers daily. We believe this prospect of "green mobility" is consistent in general principles with historical evolution. We lay out these general principles, extracted from widespread observations of human behavior over long periods, and use them to explain past transport and to project the next 50 to 100 years. Our picture emphasizes the slow penetration of new technologies of transport adding speed in the course of substituting for the old ones in terms of time allocation. We discuss serially and in increasing detail railroads, cars, airplanes, and magnetically levitated trains (maglevs).
Elektron: Electrical Systems in Retrospect and Prospect
Jesse H. Ausubel and Cesare Marchetti,
In Technological Trajectories and the Human Environment, J.H. Ausubel and H.D. Langford, eds., National Academy, Washington DC, 1997, pp. 110-134 Also appeared in Daedalus 125(3):139-169, Summer 1996.
Chernobyl After Perestroika: Reflections on a Recent Visit
Jesse H. Ausubel
Technology in Society 14:187-198, 1992.
Political change and economic deterioration have drastically affected the handling of the consequences of the Chernobyl nuclear accident. A visit to the site is recounted and five lessons drawn. These are the need for new organizations to manage the decontamination of hazardous waste sites, the limited use of emergency preparedness, the importance of longevity of risks and consequences for environmental hazards, and the surprises about what prove to be environmentally significant technologies.
Political Fallout: What Fate Awaits Chernobyl in the New World Order? (PDF)
Jesse H. Ausubel
The Sciences 81:16-21, Nov-Dec 1991.
Energy and Environment: The Light Path
Jesse H. Ausubel
Energy Systems and Policy 15:181-188, 1991.
For 200 years, the world has progressively lightened its energy diet by favoring hydrogen atoms over carbon in our hydrocarbon stew. The successful decarbonization of the energy system, the key to the alleviation of numerous environmental problems, will ultimately depend on the use of pure hydrogen fuel produced from sources and processes that are carbon-free. The outlook for aggregate reductions in the materials that an individual consumes, dematerialization, is less certain. Rapid evolution of the energy system along its current trajectory, combined with cultural change, can avert the environmental danger.

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Climate Change

Some Ways to Lessen Worries about Climate Change
Jesse H. Ausubel
The Electricity Journal 14(1):24-33, 2001.
Technical Progress and Climatic Change
Jesse H. Ausubel
pp. 501-512 in Integrated Assessment of Mitigation, Impacts, and Adaptation to Climate Change, N. Nakicenovic, W.D. Nordhaus, R. Richels, and F.L. Toth, eds., International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis, Laxenburg, Austria, 1994; Also in Energy Policy 23(4/5):411-416, 1995.
The global warming debate has neglected and thus underestimated the importance of technical change in considering reduction in greenhouse gases and adaptation to climate change. Relevant quantitative cases of long-run technical change during the past 100 years are presented in computing, communications, transport, energy, and agriculture. A noteworthy technological trajectory is that of decarbonization, or decreasing carbon intensity of primary energy. If human societies have not yet reached the end of the history of technology, the cost structure for mitigation and adaptation changes could be cheap.
Mitigation and Adaptation for Climate Change: Answers and Questions
Jesse H. Ausubel
The Bridge 23(3):15-30, 1993; Also pp. 557-584 in Costs, Impacts, and Benefits of CO2 Mitigation, Y. Kaya, N. Nakicenovic, W.D. Nordhaus, and F.L. Toth, eds., International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis, Laxenburg, Austria, 1993.
This paper states knowns and unknowns about efforts to curtail greenhouse gas emissions (mitigation) and lessen the harm of climate change (adaptation). The knowns about mitigation are that decarbonization and efficiency of the energy system are advancing steadily; some mitigation will be cheap; strict curtailing of emissions might cost 2 percent of gross domestic product (GDP); gradual control steps are better; and doubling of atmospheric concentration is not inevitable. Knowns about adaptation are that vulnerability to climate is lessening; climate change might cost 0-2 percent of GDP; analysts should assume adaptation rather than dumb farmers; and analyses of mitigation and adaptation need integration. Questions are how energy prices affect emissions; whether it is preferable to regulate emission prices or quantities; the shape of the damage function from climate change; ways to improve long-term predictions of socio-technical systems; how much policies intended to affect emissions matter; and the opportunity costs of focus on the climate issue. In conclusion, prosperity and technical progress may make both mitigation and adaptation affordable and avert the climatic danger.
A Second Look at the Impacts of Climate Change
Jesse H. Ausubel
American Scientist 79:210-221, May-June 1991.
We may be worrying too much about crops, coastlines and quick action--but too little about water, wildlife and gaps in information.
Does Climate Still Matter?
Jesse H. Ausubel
Nature 350:649-652, 1991.
We may be discovering climate as it becomes less important to well-being. A range of technologies appears to have lessened the vulnerability of human societies to climate variation.
Carbon Dioxide Emissions in a Methane Economy
Jesse H. Ausubel, Arnulf Gruebler, and Nebojsa Nakicenovic
Climatic Change 12:245-263, 1988.
Increasing reliance on natural gas (methane) to meet global energy demands holds implications for atmospheric CO2 concentrations. Analysis of these implications is presented, based on a logistic substitution model viewing energy technologies like biological species invading an econiche and substituting in case of superiority for existing species. This model suggests gas will become the dominant source and remain so for 50 years, peaking near 70 percent of world supply. Two scenarios of energy demand are explored, one holding per capita consumption at current levels, the second raising the global average in the year 2100 to the current U.S. level. In the first ("efficiency") scenario concentrations peak about 450 ppm, while in the second ("long wave") they near 600 ppm. Although projected CO2 concentrations in a "methane economy" are low in relation to other scenarios, the projections confirm that global climate warming is likely to be a major planetary concern throughout the twenty-first century. A second finding is that data on past growth of world per capita energy consumption group neatly into two pulses consistent with long-wave theories in economics.
Changing Climate: Report of the Carbon Dioxide Assessment Committee, Annex 2 (PDF)
Jesse H. Ausubel
National Academy Press, Washington, D.C., 1983.
An excerpt from "Changing Climate: Report of the Carbon Dioxide Assessment Committee."
A Review of Estimates of Future Carbon Dioxide Emissions (PDF)
Jesse H. Ausubel and William D. Nordhaus
National Academy Press, Washington, D.C., 1983.
An excerpt from "Changing Climate: Report of the Carbon Dioxide Assessment Committee."
Estimating the Future Input of Fossil Fuel CO2 into the Atmosphere by Simulation Gaming (PDF)
I. Stahl and Jesse H. Ausubel
IIAMA Working Paper WP-81-107
A Framework for Scenario Generation for CO2 Gaming (PDF)
Jesse H. Ausubel and J.M. Robinson
IIASA Working Paper WP-81-120
CO2: An Introduction and Possible Board Game (PDF)
Jesse H. Ausubel
IIASA Working Paper WP-80-153
Carbon and Climate Gaming (PDF)
Jesse H. Ausubel, J.W. Lathrop, I. Stahl, and J.M. Robinson
IIASA Working Paper WP-80-152
Climatic Constraints and Human Activities: Introduction and Overview (PDF)
Jesse H. Ausubel and A. K. Biswas
IIASA Working Paper WP-80-091
Climatic Change and the Carbon Wealth of Nations (PDF)
Jesse H. Ausubel
IIASA Working Paper WP-80-075
Economics in the Air: An Introduction to Economic Issues of the Atmosphere and Climate (PDF)
J. H. Ausubel and A.K. Biswas
Pergamon, Oxford, 1980, pp. 13-59 and IIASA Working Paper 80-92.

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Census of Marine Life

On the Limits to Knowledge of Future Marine Biodiversity (PDF)
Jesse H. Ausubel
The Electronic Journal of Sustainable Development 1(2): 19-23, 2008.
Jesse’s opening keynote address from a Scripps Institution of Oceanography conference.
Future Knowledge of Life in Oceans Past (PDF)
Jesee H. Ausubel.
In Oceans Past: Management Insights from the History of Marine Animal Populations, D. J. Starkey, P. Holm, and M. Barnard (eds.), Earthscan, London and Sterling VA, 2008, p. xix-xxvi.
Inaugural Speech, South American Workshop on Marine Biodiversity for the Census of Marine Life
Jesse H. Ausubel
Gayana 67(2):143-144, 2003. [Original Spanish version with journal's translation] [click here for Jesse's translation into English]
The Census of Marine Life: Progress and Prospects
Jesse H. Ausubel
Fisheries, the journal of the American Fisheries Society Volume 26(7): 33-36, 2001.
Toward a Census of Marine Life
Jesse H. Ausubel
Oceanography 12(3):4-5, 1999.

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DNA Barcodes

A Botanical Macroscope (PDF)
Jesse H. Ausubel
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (vol. 106, no. 31 12569–12570).
Comprehensive DNA barcode coverage of North American birds
KEVIN C. R. KERR, MARK Y. STOECKLE, CARLA J. DOVE, LEE A. WEIGT, CHARLES M. FRANCIS, PAUL D. N. HEBERT
Molecular Ecology Notes (OnlineEarly Articles). doi:10.1111/j.1471-8286.2006.01670.x
DNA barcoding seeks to assemble a standardized reference library for DNA-based identification of eukaryotic species. The utility and limitations of this approach need to be tested on well-characterized taxonomic assemblages. Here we provide a comprehensive DNA barcode analysis for North American birds including 643 species representing 93% of the breeding and pelagic avifauna of the USA and Canada. Most (94%) species possess distinct barcode clusters, with average neighbour-joining bootstrap support of 98%. In the remaining 6%, barcode clusters correspond to small sets of closely related species, most of which hybridize regularly. Fifteen (2%) currently recognized species are comprised of two distinct barcode clusters, many of which may represent cryptic species. Intraspecific variation is weakly related to census population size and species age. This study confirms that DNA barcoding can be effectively applied across the geographical and taxonomic expanse of North American birds. The consistent finding of constrained intraspecific mitochondrial variation in this large assemblage of species supports the emerging view that selective sweeps limit mitochondrial diversity.
Identification of Birds Through DNA Barcodes (PDF)
Paul Hebert, Mark Stoeckle, Tyler Zemlak, and Charles Francis
Public Library of Science (PLoS) Biology, 2(10): e312, 2004.
Taxonomy, DNA, and the Bar Code of Life (PDF)
Mark Stoeckle
Bioscience 53(9):2-3, 2003.

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Academic and Research Enterprise

Mastering Science: Graduate Schools Invigorate the MS in Science and Math (PDF)
J. H. Ausubel and Sheila Tobias
Change, The Magazine of Higher Learning (in press 2002)
Scientists, War, and Diplomacy, European Perspectives
J. H. Ausubel, A. Keynan, J.-J. Salomon, eds.
Technology in Society 23(3), 2001.
Simulating the Academy: Towards Understanding Colleges and Universities as Dynamic Systems
Jesse H. Ausubel, Robert Herman, William F. Massy, and Sally V. Massy
In What Higher Education is Doing Right, W.F. Massy and J.W. Meyerson, eds., Princeton University, 1997, pp. 107-120.
Malthus and the Graduate Students
Jesse H. Ausubel
The Scientist 10(3):11, February 5, 1996.
Science International: A US View of its Institutional Needs (PDF)
Jesse H. Ausubel
The Scientist 8(3):11-14, 1994. Republished in Interdisciplinary Science Reviews 20(2):104-109, 1995. Republished in Technology in Society 19(1):25-31, 1997.
Global science will benefit from better "international market places" in which potential participants in international scientific cooperation can gather, trade information, and do business, should they choose. Problems with projects such as particle accelerators and space stations underscore the timeliness of institutional innovation. Changes should occur in both non-governmental infrastructure, which brings together the people with the ideas, and intergovernmental mechanisms, which convene people who control financial resources. A major international commission on international institutions for cooperation in scientific research should be formed to assess needs and to propose and build support for more efficient, capable, and reliable mechanisms.
Rails and Snails and the Debate over Goals for Science (PDF)
Jesse H. Ausubel
Published by the Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities, Jerusalem, 1994. Also available from The Program for the Human Environment, The Rockefeller University, New York, NY.
Should society run on rails like a train or pant over its spit like a snail, exploring the slopes? The successful evolution of both the biosphere and science suggests that the setting of goals, even if a posteriori correct, may forbid the system the exploration of potentially fruitful routes and thus constitutes an inferior form of strategy. Yet human society, its technology and science do move along discernible evolutionary tracks; these can be mapped, and goals set within the envelopes of possibility suggested by the trajectories. The current anxiety associated with the end of one historical era and the birth of a new one whose features we do not yet clearly perceive intensifies the debate over goal-oriented strategies. In this time of conjunctural change, participants in the scientific enterprise should reaffirm the need to balance action and permission, rail journeys and random walks.
The Organizational Ecology of Science Advice in America
Jesse H. Ausubel
European Review 1(3):249-261, 1993.
One way that the American government has changed in the past 50 years is through the establishment and expansion of organizations providing technical expertise for decision-making. This essay reviews the performance of current structures from the diverse vantage points of elites, bureaucracies, the general public and activist minorities, drawing on studies of the Carnegie Commission on Science, Technology and Government, and the cultural theory of Mary Douglas et al. The apparently mature institutional landscape may well be ripe for change.
Flat Organizations for Earth Science (PDF)
Jesse H. Ausubel and John H. Steele
Bull. of the Amer. Meteorological Society 74(5):809-814, 1993.
The institutions that made American science famous figure less and less in the leadership and management of American science. Causes for this decline, especially evident in ocean and atmospheric sciences, include large programs that cut across institutions, the volume of federal funds, the scale of scientific instruments and facilities, easier travel and telecommunications, and time horizons of entrepreneurial science. The pattern emerging results not from a deliberate policy of bypassing major institutions and their management, but from radical changes in the structure of scientific activity. Science is matching industry in a trend toward flatter management and functional, rather than geographic, organization. Some risks and needs arise with the new balance--or imbalance--of power.
Facing Toward Governments: Nongovernmental Organizations and Scientific and Technical Advice
Jesse H. Ausubel
Published by the Carnegie Commission on Science, Technology, and Government, New York, NY, 1993.
International Environmental Research and Assessment: Proposals for Better Organization and Decision Making
Jesse H. Ausubel
Published by the Carnegie Commission on Science, Technology, and Government, New York, NY, 1992

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Analytical Methods and Populations

DRAMs as Model Organisms for Study of Technological Evolution
Nadejda M. Victor and Jesse H. Ausubel
Technological Forecasting and Social Change 69(3):243-262, 2002.
Death and the Human Environment: The United States in the 20th Century
Jesse H. Ausubel, Perrin S. Meyer, and Iddo K. Wernick
Technology in Society 23(2):131-146 (2001).
Historical examination of causes of death shows that lethality may evolve in consistent and predictable ways as the human environment comes under control. In the United States during the 20th century infections became less deadly, while heart disease grew dominant, followed by cancer. Logistic models of growth and multi-species competition in which the causes of death are the competitors describe precisely the evolutionary success of the killers, as seen in the dossiers of typhoid, diphtheria, the gastrointestinal family, pneumonia/influenza, cardiovascular, cancer, and AIDS. Improvements in water supply and other aspects of the environment provided the cardinal defenses against infection. Environmental strategies appear less powerful for deferring the likely future causes of death. Cancer will overtake heart disease as the leading U.S. killer around the year 2015 and infections will gradually regain their fatal edge, if the orderly history of death continues.
A Primer on Logistic Growth and Substitution: The Mathematics of the Loglet Lab Software
Perrin S. Meyer, Jason W. Yung, and Jesse H. Ausubel
Technological Forecasting and Social Change 61(3):247-271, 1999.
This article describes the mathematics underlying the Loglet Lab software package for loglet analysis. ``Loglet analysis'' refers to the decomposition of growth and diffusion into S-shaped logistic components, roughly analogous to wavelet analysis, popular for signal processing and compression. The term ``loglet'' joins ``logistic'' and ``wavelet.'' Loglet analysis comprises two models: the first is the component logistic model, in which autonomous systems exhibit logistic growth. The second is the logistic substitution model, which models the effects of competitions within a market. An appendix describes the current status of the software.
The Loglet Lab Software: A Tutorial
Jason W. Yung, Perrin S. Meyer, and Jesse H. Ausubel
Technological Forecasting and Social Change 61(3):273-295, 1999.
Carrying Capacity: A Model with Logistically Varying Limits
Perrin S. Meyer and Jesse H. Ausubel
Technological Forecasting and Social Change 61(3):209-214, 1999.
We introduce an extension to the widely-used logistic model of growth to a limit that in turn allows for a sigmoidally increasing carrying capacity, that is, the invention and diffusion of technologies which lift the limit. We study the effect of this dynamic carrying capacity on the trajectories of simple growth models, and we use the new model to re-analyze two actual cases of the growth of human populations. English and Japanese examples with two pulses, or one change in limit, appear to verify the model.
Human Population Dynamics Revisited with the Logistic Model: How Much Can Be Modeled and Predicted?
Cesare Marchetti, Perrin S. Meyer, and Jesse H. Ausubel
Technological Forecasting and Social Change 52:1-30, 1996.
Decrease or growth of population comes from the interplay of death and birth (and locally, migration). We revive the logistic model, which was tested and found wanting in early 20th century studies of aggregate human populations, and apply it instead to life expectancy (death) and fertility (birth), the key factors totaling population. For death, once an individual has legally entered society, the logistic portrays the situation crisply. Human life expectancy is reaching the culmination of a two-hundred year-process that forestalls death until about 80 for men and the mid-80's for women. No breakthroughs in longevity are in sight unless genetic engineering comes to help. For birth, the logistic covers quantitatively its actual morphology. However, because we have not been able to model this essential parameter in a predictive way over long periods, we cannot say whether the future of human population is runaway growth or slow implosion. Thus, we revisit the logistic analysis of aggregate human numbers. From a niche point of view, resources are the limits to numbers, and access to resources depends on technologies. The logistic makes clear that for homo faber, the limits to numbers keep shifting. These moving edges may most confound forecasting the long-run size of humanity.
Bi-logistic Growth
Perrin S. Meyer
Technological Forecasting and Social Change 47:89-102, 1994.
The S-shaped logistic growth model has been extensively studied and applied to a wide range of biological and socio-technical systems. A model, the Bi-logistic, is presented for the analysis of systems that experience two phases of logistic growth, either overlapping or sequentially. A nonlinear least-squares algorithm is described that provides Bi-logistic parameter estimates from time-series growth data. Model sensitivity and robustness are discussed in relation to error structure in the data. A taxonomy and some examples of systems that exhibit Bi-logistic growth are presented. The Bi-logistic model is shown to be superior to the simple logistic model for representing many growth processes.
Graphical Representations of World Population Growth (PDF)
Jesse H. Ausubel and Perrin S. Meyer
Human Dimensions Quarterly 1(2):17-19, 1994.
A Note on the Population 50 Years Hence (PDF)
Jesse H. Ausubel and M.A. Stoto
IIASA Working Paper WP-81-120

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Miscellaneous

Dis the Threat Industry
Jesse H. Ausubel
Technological Forecasting and Social Change 62:119-120, 1999.
Ways to Cut Vineyard Traffic and Taxes
Jesse H. Ausubel
Op-Ed in the [Martha's] Vineyard Gazette p. 15, 4 August 1995.
Cutting the Volume of Traffic on the Island
Jesse H. Ausubel
Op-Ed in the [Martha's] Vineyard Gazette p. 15, 9 September 1994.
Working Less and Living Longer: Long-Term Trends in Working Time and Time Budgets
Jesse H. Ausubel and Arnulf Gruebler
WP-94-99, International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis, Laxenburg, Austria, 1994. Also in Technological Forecasting and Social Change 50:113-131, 1995.
Analyses of time series data beginning in the mid-nineteenth century in the industrialized nations, especially the United Kingdom, show that on average people are working significantly less while living longer. Although the average career length has remained around 40 years, the total life hours worked shrank for an average British worker from 124,000 hours in 1856 to 69,000 in 1981. The fraction of disposable lifetime hours spent working declined from 50% to 20%. Meanwhile the female share of career years doubled to 30%. If the long-term trends continue at their historic rates, the work week might average 27 hours by the year 2050. The secular trend away form the formalized work contract to other socially obligatory activities and free time implies numerous challenges for human societies.
Rat Race Dynamics and Crazy Companies: The Diffusion of Technologies and Social Behavior
Jesse H. Ausubel
Technological Forecasting and Social Change 39:11-22, 1991. Also in Diffusion of Technologies and and Social Behavior, Nebojsa Nakicenovic and Arnulf Gruebler, eds., Springer, Berlin, 1991, pp. 1-17.
Cities and Their Vital Systems: Infrastructure, Past, Present, and Future (PDF)
Jesse H. Ausubel and Robert Herman, eds.
National Academy, Washington, D.C., 1988.
Cities and Their Vital Systems: Synthesis and Perspectives
Robert Herman and Jesse H. Ausubel
In Cities and Their Vital Systems: Infrastructure, Past, Present, and Future, Jesse H. Ausubel and Robert Herman, eds., National Academy, Washington D.C., 1988, pp. 1-21.