EME 504
Foundations in Sustainability Systems


Please watch the following video: 2:55

Module 10 video
Credit: © Penn State University, is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 4.0
Click for transcript.

PRESENTER: We're back at Greenwood Furnace, and this used to be the site of quite a bit of industrial activity in the mid to late 1800s. There would be hundreds of people working here to turn iron ores into the tools and parts that were needed to build railroads. That took advantage of the large amount of biomass and limestone that is also present in this area, and of the hydropower to move and power some of the machinery needed to process those materials. Basically, at a very fundamental level, economies depend on how good of a job we can do turning available resources into products that have a higher price tag. For example, here we started out with iron ores, and we ended up with parts for railroads. Obtaining the energy and the resources needed to drive the economy has come to a very high price to communities around the world. This one in particular is an example, and it is an interesting example because here the limiting factor was not necessarily the availability of resources, but the availability of the community itself to adjust to the growing technological demands of the time. So this community that once was thriving and was the home of over 300 households became a ghost town within the span of less than a century. So much less than a century from settlement to peak to becoming a ghost town. And this illustrates how the environment also shapes the kind of human communities that are going to be developing in particular areas. Now, there is an intrinsic value to environmental resources and to the biosphere itself. Basically, every species has a right to exist or at least not to be extensively affected by human activity. But what also needs to be taken into account is that continual degradation also has a very large impact on human communities because of how the environment shapes our individual choices and our individual access to opportunity. So environmental changes have bearing on ethical decisions that need to be made from a policy standpoint.

Learning Objectives

  • Analyze the interrelations between economic and environmental systems.
  • Evaluate the role of economic growth in shaping social views of sustainability.
  • Compare different environmental policy instruments and their effectiveness.
  • Recognize the different factors that connect nature, culture, and human well-being.

What is due for Module 10?

This module will take us one week to complete. Please refer to the Course Syllabus for specific time frames and due dates. 

Module 10: Assignments
Requirements Assignment Details
To Do Read and familiarize yourself with all the Module 10 materials.
Read Registered students may access these articles via Canvas/the Penn State Library:
  • Perrings et al. The Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services Science-Policy Interface. Science v.331. pp. 1139-1140.
  • Haynie & Pfeiffer. 2012. Why economics matters for understanding the effects of climate change on fisheries. ICES Journal of Marine Science. v.69(7), 1160–1167. doi:10.1093/icesjms/fss021.

See Canvas for full assignment details