Monday, May 27, 2019

Mathematical and Statistical Challenges for Sustainability

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Learning to live sustainably on Earth is going to require enormous advances in our understanding of the natural world and our relationship with it. To acquire that understanding, progress in the mathematical sciences is essential.

The human population is swelling toward ten billion. All of these people need food, clean water, housing and energy. To stay within the planet’s carrying capacity, we are going to have to be extraordinarily clever about how we use the Earth’s resources. We need to know what the impacts of our actions are on the environment we depend on; we need to understand how the natural world functions; and we need to plan for the inevitable changes to come. Doing so requires answering extremely complex, multi-disciplinary questions in the emerging “science of sustainability.” And that science requires the precise, quantitative insights that the mathematical sciences offer.

But mathematical scientists are only beginning to become involved in sustainability research, and many mathematicians, statisticians, and many other scientists are uncertain of the role that mathematics has to play. To redress this, six North American mathematical research institutes, together with the U.S. National Science Foundation, sponsored the Mathematical Challenges for Sustainability Workshop held at the DIMACS Center at Rutgers University, November 15-17, 2010, gathering 40 leaders in the mathematical sciences together to lay out a roadmap of the mathematical and statistical challenges in sustainability science. This report is a distillation of their work.

Executive Summary
Chapter 1: Human Well-being and the Natural Environment
Chapter 2: Human-Environmental Systems as Complex Adaptive Systems
Chapter 3: Measuring and Monitoring Progress Toward Sustainability
Chapter 4: Managing Human-Environmental Systems for Sustainability
Chapter 5: Mathematical Challenges in Energy Sustainability
Appendices: Group White Papers
Appendix 1. Human Well-being and the Natural Environment
Appendix 2. Human-Environmental Systems as Complex Adaptive Systems
Appendix 3. Measuring and Monitoring, and Forecasting Progress Toward Sustainability
Appendix 4. Managing Human-Environmental Systems for Sustainability
Appendix 5. Mathematical Challenges in Energy Sustainability

Author Details
"Julie Rehmeyer"

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