Section V: Looking Ahead

Our case studies have focused on some very challenging issues facing the environment from local to global scales. It’s easy to get discouraged and feel overwhelmed by the magnitude of today’s environmental problems. But it is also important to remember that there are many scientists, engineers, conservationists, community leaders, and others working hard to lessen the human impact on the environment, and we are making solid progress in a number of areas. In this section, we’ll take a look ahead and consider some innovative approaches that are helping to meet the human need for resources, along with novel ways to reduce or mitigate our impacts on the environment.

Background Materials:


A good site for the basics of sustainability is  Also, view the web site’s 22 minute video on sustainability.


For a discussion of urban farming, view

To learn more about soil-free gardening, go to this web site on aquaponics:

If you’re curious about the locavore movement, this web site has a lot of basic information:


For a brief review of biofuels basics, visit and also view the video on NREL’s research on converting biomass to liquid fuels.

Green Buildings:

Go to to learn more about the LEED certification program for green buildings

If you’d like to learn more about BedZED, visit

Go to to read about North West Bicester, the UK’s first eco town

Wastewater Treatment:

For general information about using eco-machines to treat wastewater, use this link:

Curbing Greenhouse Gas Emissions

For a good review of how carbon emissions can be captured at point sources, visit

To watch a video showing how algae can be used to capture carbon, go to:

Solid Waste Disposal: 

For some basic facts on our waste generation, visit

General article about edible packaging:

The following are links to articles in the popular press about WikiCell:

Textbook References and Links:

You can learn more about FarmedHere at their web site:

For a good discussion of how a photovoltaic (PV) cell works, go to

National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s solar calculator:

The energy estimator for a range of common household appliances:

To view a video on the eco-machine being used to treat wastewater at the University of Vermont’s Rubenstein School of Environmental and Natural Resources, go to

For additional information on eco- and living machines, visit

US Department of Energy video on converting algae to fuel:

If you’re interested in finding out more about geoengineering approaches to managing climate change, go to

For general information on the waste generated by packaging and some positive steps to reduce this waste, go to

Downloadable data and files:  NA