Sustaining Resources for Tomorrow

Sustaining Resources for Tomorrow
by Jacqueline A. Stagner, David S-K. Ting, Editors

Springer Nature Publisher, Stuttgart, Germany, 2020
290 pp. illus. b&w and col. Trade, 124,79 €; eBook, 96,29 €
ISBN: 978-3-030-27675-1; ISBN: 978-3-030-27676-8.

Reviewed by
Robert Maddox-Harle
June 2020

This book is possibly one of the most important recently published books which every literate person should read. It is ‘essential’ reading for all those involved with food production, water resource management, architecture, fuel/energy production/use/distribution, and politicians! One thing the varied essays make clear is that we are all in this ‘living on the planet’ gig together, it is up to everyone to make a contribution to developing sustainability, no matter how small - every bit counts. In the Preface the editors quote Martin Luther King Jr. “Even if I knew that tomorrow the world would go to pieces, I would still plant my apple tree.” This means it is time for people to drop the current global solipsistic iPhone (i-everything) mentality and do things unselfishly for present and FUTURE generations! As the title of Lucas Nelson’s (Willie Nelson’s son) latest song says, “Turn off the News and Grow a Garden”.

There are 19 chapters, each one dealing with a different aspect of sustainability. All are well researched with vast resources for future study, critique, and verification. The main thing that impressed me with this book is the lack of hysterical, one-sided fanatical hype. The questions of climate change, the Anthropocene, and extinction of humanity are quite often riddled with this almost evangelical sensationalism. This book is a sober, middle-of-the-road look at the facts, as best as can be ascertained at present (2020), many of these are eye opening and not quite what we have been led to believe.

All chapters are well written and engaging, and may be read out of sequence to suit the reader's specific field of interest. The book runs to 290 pages and is lavishly illustrated with both colour and black & white diagrams, drawings, and photographs. I will list the chapter titles (truncated) below as they are fairly indicative of the scope of each discussion.

1 – Energy, Renewables Alone?

2 – Exploring EKCs in Urban Water and Energy Use Patterns and Its Interconnections

3 – Mining Phosphate from Wastewater

4  - Toward Sustainable Agriculture: Net-Houses Instead of Greenhouses

5 – Sustainable Food for Thought

6 – Tomorrow’s Green Buildings

7 – Improving the Uncertainties of Buildings Lifetime in the Evaluation of Environmental Impacts

8 – Sustainable Living? Biodigital Future

9 – Energy, Security and Efficiency Analysis of Renewable Technologies

10 – Small Wind

11 – Supercapacitor for Future Energy Storage

12 – Sustainable Services to Enhance Flexibility in the Upcoming Smart Grids

13 – Carbon Storage and Utilization as a Local Response to Use Fossil Fuels in a Sustainable Manner.

Chapter 1 – Energy, Renewables Alone is a broad, though detailed, overview of most aspects of the sustainability debate and in a sense sets the sobering stage for the rest of the book. There are well over 170 references in this chapter that makes it a goldmine for students and researchers. It is, in part, based on a keynote presentation given by the author, Graham T. Reader at the University of Windsor’s Energy for Tomorrow Symposium (June 2019).

The chapters that I found personally of most interest were number eight and 11, given my interest and original training in architecture and electrical system design. Chapter 8 by Alberto T. Estévez (University of Catalunya, Barcelona) delves deeply into Sustainable Living and Biodigital Architecture. I have reviewed for Leonardo a number of books from this university, all are at the forefront of tomorrow’s Living Architecture. Chapter 11 Supercapacitor for Future Energy Storage by Giancarlo Abbate et al. tackles the hard question of storing electricity when the sun is not shining or the wind is not blowing and outlines the state-of-the-art high power storage of supercapacitors. As mentioned in the Abstract, “All these kind of problems cannot be solved always by electrochemical batteries. An alternative to them is represented by supercapacitors (SCs), energy storage devices specialized in high power, exhibiting also a very long life cycle.”

As mentioned previously this book is a must read for everyone interested in their own and their children’s future. Also I can envisage many artists, including those avant-garde of the Leonardo community, being inspired by the wealth of information and ideas in this book to create works of art which utilize sustainable ideas in provocative and stunning projects.