Title: The history of sustainable development and the impact of the energy system

Authors: Holger Schlör; Wolfgang Fischer; Jürgen-Friedrich Hake

Addresses: Forschungszentrum Jülich, Institute of Energy and Climate Research, Systems Analysis and Technology Evaluation, Jülich 52425, Germany ' Forschungszentrum Jülich, Institute of Energy and Climate Research, Systems Analysis and Technology Evaluation, Jülich 52425, Germany ' Forschungszentrum Jülich, Institute of Energy and Climate Research, Systems Analysis and Technology Evaluation, Jülich 52425, Germany

Abstract: This paper describes the origin of the idea, term and concept of sustainable development. Driving forces were fundamental crises, which were essentially crises of the energy system: the idea originated during the crisis of the medieval agrarian solar system; the term emerged when the agrarian energy system could not satisfy the growing energy demand of the emerging industrial age at the end of the 18th century; the concept originated at the end of the 20th century, when the fossil fuel energy system came close to its ecological limits and society was in search of a concept reconciling ecological, economic and social goals for present and future generations. Currently, we are witnessing a slow transition to a new, probably a post-fossil energy system. Therefore, managing the present and future in a sustainable way is a task that will accompany humanity on its way into the future.

Keywords: sustainable development; history; energy systems; sustainable society; sustainability.

DOI: 10.1504/IJSSOC.2012.049404

International Journal of Sustainable Society, 2012 Vol.4 No.4, pp.317 - 335

Available online: 03 Oct 2012

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