354 Illick Hall
1 Forestry Drive
Syracuse, New York 13210
Syllabus, recorded lectures, powerpoints, readings and more coming soon to the Next Generation Energy Initiative (site maintained by Jessica Lambert)
Recent and some "classic" papers in each subject, in most cases with downloadable PDFs:
I am approaching 70 and am contemplating the end of my life as a full time professor. My wife and I have purchased a very nice home on Flathead Lake, Montana and are looking forward to living there for much of the year. I might continue to teach part time but I find the administrative demands and, especially, the demands of incessant email exhausting. I have been teaching 5 courses and a seminar for years and I do not have the energy once had. My work in research and in teaching is increasingly oriented toward consolidating and archiving what I have built so that others can use what I and those I have worked with have accomplished.
Meanwhile my research focuses increasingly on almost entirely on energy, with a good grant from the UK Department of International Development helping me to accomplish this and getting my last graduate students finished up. As the world increasingly experiences the effects of the depletion of cheap energy interest in my work seems to have increased dramatically. In retrospect I am glad that I kept my underlying focus on energy even though I found it impossible to get much funding for that work until recently (although I got lots of money for other things I thought less important). I am especially interested in understanding the effects of peak oil and declining EROI on economic growth and possibilities, and how that might play out in the developing world. Many of these issues come full circle to the limits to growth arguments that fascinated me in graduate school. A critical issue is to determine how, if the pie is no longer getting larger, the remaining pie should be sliced. This is a political issue outside the bailiwick of my professional research, but one that requires good scientific analyses which I hope to contribute to.
There are two particular areas where this research coalesces: EROI analysis and the development of biophysical economics. As conventional sources of high grade energy falter energy companies turn increasingly to lower grade resources, often expressing the hope that new technologies will somehow make the exhaustion of our traditional resources unimportant. Thus it becomes important to examine the EROI of these new resources as well as to determine how that may change as these resources. This we are doing. The second area has to do with the kind of economics we teach young people and that we turn to to run our economy. All of our economic and financial theories were derived during periods of expanding energy availability. Now as we enter the time of cessation of growth in the availability of high quality energy these theories are not working so well. What economic theories will be appropriate for periods of constricting energy availability? Another way to ask this question is “If real day to day economics is about stuff (food on the table, a roof over our heads, things we buy) why in the world is economics taught and undertaken today as (only) a social science rather than as a biophysical science? Thus one of my major research foci is the development of Biophysical economics.
We are consolidating all of our teaching materials (syllabi, lecture recordings, power points and so on) on the site maintained by the New economic teaching initiative and maintained by my former student and associate Jessica Lambert. We encourage anyone interested in teaching Biophyiscal economics as well as courses in global environment, energy, ecosystems or systems ecology to visit this site. There is also “advice for young professors” and other helpful materials for teachers.
Most of my service activity is oriented towards teaching and research activity in the developing world, especially Latin America. I have taught Systems Ecology and Geographical Modeling (with my wife Myrna) in Argentina, Bolivia, China, Costa Rica and Mexico. I have also run workshops and seminar series in Italy, Finland and Sweden. I have done limited consulting work on many things, including NAFTA, fisheries, impacts of power facilities and so on. I am on the editorial board of Ecological Economics and was recently on the Editorial Board of Conservation Ecology and served as the representative of the Ecological Society of America to the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
My DOS-based Costa Rica Land Use, Agriculture, and Environmental Simulation is available for download (364 KB). Simply click on the following link, save the self-extracting file to your hard drive, then execute the file to expand it. Check out the READ.ME file for details on how to run the simulation.
building a new energy course and an EROI Institute. For example you can visit a series of recent papers summarizing our energy return on investment for various fuels by going to my publication list and looking under 2008.