Already in the late seventeen hundreds, Thomas Malthus was sounding the alarm about the exponential growth of the human population and the catastrophe that would ensue once population would excess food production. While that scenario was avoided due to the green revolution that transformed food production during the mid-1900s, concerns about the ability of the planet to sustain a growing human population have not disappeared. Water security has surpassed food security as the most pressing matter affecting human quality of life, and climate change due to unsustainable emissions of greenhouse gases has the potential to be catastrophic.
Much as the green revolution avoided, or at least postponed, the Malthusian catastrophe, there is among many people the same sense that technological solutions will avoid the current fears due to climate change. Sustainability science is at the center of the efforts to predict whether this is true or not. Sustainability scholars collect, analyze and extrapolate from data about production and consumption or resources, about development and adoption of new technologies that can change the production/consumption balance, and about the changes of behaviors of individual consumers and businesses.
Northwestern scholars are the the forefront of all of these efforts. Below, you can read about their discoveries.