Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Sustainable Designs of our Global Ecosystem: Now to year 2050

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“Human development is following a dangerously unsustainable path globally,” he explains. “Waves of investment in low and middle income countries are accelerating this problem because they are following an unsustainable model. Our urban areas and methods of food production consume land and non-renewable resources inefficiently. But we can do something to turn the situation around: we can move towards an ecological age.” According to Peter Head. Here's his voice over the video in a series landmark lectures how we journey into the transition towards Ecological Age.

Dr Todd Final Lecture on "Healing of the Water" and Peter Head lecture on "Ecogical Age" and video are collected here for my friends benefit describing how we humans will enter a new Ecological Age and how we as inhabitants of the Earth must survive to heal our planet for the next coming generations.  CNN interviewed Peter Head here how 2050 would be like in this video.

There are 6 presentations here that I included with which Peter Head describes eloquently how we will live in the ecological age 2050.

 Today we are now 7 billions living on this beautiful planet. We will also explore how our landscape architects, scientists, biologist, environmental and ecological engineers get together to design a sustainable ecosystems.
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  • Videos were selected to simply visualize their works and invaluable passion for healing our ecosystems. In the Philippines IRRI projects, this video illustrates how pest management and local plants are used side by side with Rice plantations to control pest.

Here's one unique practice in the field of landscape architecture, ecology. biotechnology and bioscience combined it is called Ecological Engineering. It is defined as a study of ecosystems for the benefit of humans and nature.


According to Mitsch (1996) "the design of sustainable ecosystems intends to integrate human society with its natural environment for the benefit of both".

This short video from our friends in Hawaii shows you how natural wastewater treatment plant become an indigenous integrated into the environment supporting its agriculture, food production, and maintaining recreational needs.


Mitsch and Jørgensen were the first to define ecological engineering and provide ecological engineering principles. Later they refined the definition and increased the number of principles.

They defined and characterized ecological engineering in a 1989 book and clarified it further in their 2004 book (see Literature). They suggest the goal of ecological engineering is: a) the restoration of ecosystems that have been substantially disturbed by human activities such as environmental pollution or land disturbance, and b) the development of new sustainable ecosystems that have both human and ecological values. They summarized the five concepts key to ecological engineering as:
  1. it is based on the self-designing capacity of ecosystems,
  2. it can be a field test of ecological theory,
  3. it relies on integrated system approaches,
  4. it conserves non-renewable energy, and
  5. it supports biological conservation.
Bergen et al. defined ecological engineering as:
  • utilizing ecological science and theory,
  • applying to all types of ecosystems,
  • adapting engineering design methods, and
  • acknowledging a guiding value system.
Implementation of ecological engineering has focused on the creation or restoration of ecosystems, from degraded wetlands to multi-celled tubs and greenhouses that integrate microbial, fish, and plant services to process human wastewater into products such as fertilizers, flowers, and drinking water.

Potential applications of ecological engineering in cities have included the field of landscape architecture, urban planning, and urban horticulture, which can be synthesized into urban stormwater management. Potential applications of ecological engineering in rural landscapes have included wetland treatment and community reforestation through traditional ecological knowledge.

Here's a Alaskan Town Palmer and how he solved his impending environmental problem: a failing infrastructure.

What intrigue on this new environmental practice is a unique conversion of failing waste water treatment plant in Alaska and convert it into a super cleaning power generator-without costly upgrades and expansion.

A town in Palmer Alaska face a common problem be setting similar thousands of cities and town throughout the United States a failing infrastructure: in this town it is an aging wastewater treatment plant was failing. It braced for upgrade cost of $63 million price tag.

Today the plant is on track to treat more wastewater with less energy and even generate power, without expanding the facility's size. It takes the waste out of waste water.
The Town contracted a group of Ecological scientists & bio-engineers. Here's their unique solutions. Given an existing lagoon with insulation and free waste heat from a nearby power plant fueled with biogas produced by wastewater treatment plant itself. The design calls for the biodigester to use wastewater combined with organic and carbon wastes diverted from the landfill to generate power to fuel the entire plant. By reducing the Town's utility rates excess power can be sold to the gas pipeline or the electric power grid.

The current plant produces 1 million-gallon-per-day(GPD) and will increase its capacity by eighfold to 8 million GPD - simply by "capturing waste heat discharged from a power plant and using it to super-charge microbial ctivity that treats wastewater faster and produces methane. This strategy eliminates the common obstacle to biogas production in cold areas of the Earth like Alaska. Methane doesn't form efficiently in cool places.

For Palmer, the result is clean water discharged to its creek as well as energy efficiency, power generation and avoided costs. Someday it could also be use for irrigation purposes fue to organic fertilizing properties from waste matter.

It simplication is enormous to the earth cities: It shows that wastewater utilities can be self-sufficient for costs and energy and even serve as  clean power plants.  Its ecologically sensible. Los Angeles has also embarked on similar recycling technology for its water infrastructure. We will research on this topic on next curiosity journey.

 I have selected several videos here to help me understand the important issues on our ecosystem. As I watched them I realized, how humans can start to heal and engineer some of past environmental destructions due to mere ignorance or lack of knowledge on them. 

Greenhouse Gas Capture:

Nuclear or solar energy can be used to actively capture greenhouse gases from the atmosphere and convert them into non-polluting chemical compounds, in other words, to convert atmospheric carbon dioxide into solid carbon and gaseous oxygen.

Earth will get more heat (waste heat of the nuclear power station, and energy consumption of the processes, minus the internal energy added to carbon and oxygen when chemically separating them out of the carbon dioxide).

Also, the removed carbon dioxide will reduce it in the atmosphere. Instead of direct chemical reactions, the capture could be done by biological means, accelerated with help of nuclear energy. In other words, air separation plants could run on nuclear energy, capturing liquid or solid carbon dioxide.

Then, possibly, chlorophyll-containing genetically modified algae could be used to convert it into fixed carbon compounds. We could have an interim technology of spraying microspheres loaded with algae into the open atmosphere from aircraft or even balloons. If the microspheres were small enough, these could remain in the air for long times, and go on converting carbon dioxide with help of direct solar energy.

Permaculture is sustainable land use design.

This is based on ecological and biological principles, often using patterns that occur in nature to maximise effect while minimizing wasted energy. Permaculture aims to create stable, productive systems that provide for human needs, harmoniously integrating the land with its inhabitants.


Imagine all the contribution of  plants, animals, their nutrient cycles, climatic factors and weather cycles are all part of the picture. Inhabitants’ needs are provided for using proven technologies for food, energy, shelter and infrastructure. There is no waste in real terms. Every part of the living planet and its organism plays each own role to heal the earth.

Elements in a system are viewed in relationship to other elements, where the outputs of one element become the inputs of another.

Within a Permaculture system, work is minimised, "wastes" become resources, productivity and yields increase, and environments are restored. Permaculture principles can be applied to any environment, at any scale from dense urban settlements to individual homes, from farms to entire regions. 

Permaculture as a systematic method was developed by Australians Bill Mollison and David Holmgren and their associates during the 1970s in a series of publications.

Ecological Engineering on ScienceDirect(Opens new window)Ecological Engineering Methods (also known as Biological Engineering or ECO-Engineering) is when researchers try to tap biologically-based energy sources.

Some projects include engineering new organisms that produce hydrogen from water and sunlight in environmentally friendly ways with no waste products, and transforming the way man interacts with the environment. One of the more familiar techniques of ECO-Engineering is Bioremediation. Using oil-eating bacteria created by Eco-Engineering, Bioremidiation is applied to oil spills and chemical spills worldwide.

Ecological Engineering

The Journal of Ecosystem Restoration

ISSN: 0925-8574

Here's a great book on Ecological Engineering: Journal of Ecosytem Restoration.

The journal is meant for ecologists who, because of their research interests or occupation, are involved in designing, monitoring, or constructing ecosystems.

It is meant to serve as a bridge between ecologists and engineers, as ecotechnology is not wholly defined by either field. The journal will be read and contributed to by applied ecologists, environmental scientists and managers and regulators, natural resource specialists (e.g. foresters, fish and wildlife specialists), environmental and civil engineers, agroecologists, and landscape planners and designers.

The journal is also for engineers who, as a result of training and/or experience in biological and/or ecological sciences, are involved in designing and building ecosystems. The journal is of particular interest to practising environmental managers due to its multidisciplinary approach to practical problems and opportunities.

Ecological engineering has been defined as the design of ecosystems for the mutual benefit of humans and nature. Specific topics covered in the journal include: ecotechnology; synthetic ecology; bioengineering; sustainable agroecology; habitat reconstruction; restoration ecology; ecosystem conservation; ecosystem rehabilitation; stream and river restoration; wetland restoration and construction; reclamation ecology; non-renewable resource conservation.

Applications of ecological engineering (or ecotechnology) include wetland creation and restoration, pollution control by ecosystems, restoration and rehabilitation of forests, grasslands, lakes, reservoirs and rivers, and development of sustainable agroecosystems.

Because ecological engineering is based on the premise of conserving both renewable and non-renewable resources by using both in partnership, the journal will also be pertinent to those involved in global climate change, alternative energy policies, ecological economics, environmental conservation, and global geopolitics.

 Here are selected videos showing wetland restorations in Ethopia, Canada and Hunitngton Beach California showing its long term benefits to humans and nature.

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