Achieving sustainability requires a sophisticated understanding of continuously evolving resource, production, and consumption systems that make up society's relationship to nature. In a special new issue, Yale's Journal of Industrial Ecology illustrates how the field is increasingly turning to complexity science for tools and insights in its pursuit of reduced environmental impacts.
In the special issue, "Advances in Complex Adaptive Systems and Industrial Ecology," a group of international researchers show how integration of complex adaptive system into the study of sustainability challenges is revealing new knowledge about our interconnected world, where interaction, innovation, and development unfold across time and space in often unanticipated, if not unimaginable, ways.
Complexity science is the multidisciplinary study of complex systems with many interacting components that produce behaviors that are difficult to explain simply in terms of interactions between the individual components.
In the issue, contributors apply complexity science to topics as diverse as urban systems, public water withdrawal in the U.S., and energy efficiency and rebound effects from the use of LEDs and compact fluorescent bulbs. Authors also present new modeling architectures and data, review the use of complexity modeling tools in the field, and advance the understanding of resilience in sustainability.
"Complexity science holds real potential for grappling with the challenges of sustainability." said Peter Crane, Dean of the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies. "The use of agent-based modeling, network analysis, interconnected models in industrial ecology is very exciting. This special issue presents the cutting edge work in the field."
- An analysis of how thermodynamics can improve our understanding of the growth of cities.
- A presentation of multi-model ecologies -- an interacting group of models and data sets that coevolve with one another -- as a productive approach to integrated modeling.
- An analysis of interdependency, vulnerability, and resilience of material exchange and infrastructure system in an eco-industrial park in Jiangsu, China.
- The integration of considerations of resilience into life cycle assessment.
- An analysis of the potential for increased use of lighting from adoption of LEDs and compact fluorescent lamps using agent-based modeling.
"Industrial ecology has explored the connection to complexity science for nearly two decades," said Reid Lifset, editor-in-chief of the Journal of Industrial Ecology. "This special issue provides a window into that development and to the insights that have been gained."
The special issue also announces the winners of the first Graedel Prize, honoring the best papers by a junior and senior author published in the journal. The prize is named for Yale Professor Thomas E. Graedel in recognition of his vital contributions and pioneering work in the development of the field of industrial ecology.
The Journal of Industrial Ecology is a peer-reviewed international bimonthly owned by Yale University, published by Wiley-Blackwell and headquartered at the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies. This special issue of the Journal of Industrial Ecology was guest edited by Prof. Gerard Dijkema of Groningen University, Prof. Ming Xu of the University of Michigan, and Prof. Sybil Derrible of the University of Illinois, Chicago.
Articles in the special issue are freely downloadable for a limited time.