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Sustainability 2017, 9(7), 1264; doi:10.3390/su9071264

Entropy Analysis of the Coupled Human–Earth System: Implications for Sustainable Development

College of Resources and Environment, Huazhong Agricultural University, Wuhan 430070, China
Received: 24 April 2017 / Revised: 13 July 2017 / Accepted: 15 July 2017 / Published: 18 July 2017
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Abstract

Finding the basic physical foundation contributing to sustainable development is significantly useful in seeking ways to build an enduring human future. This paper introduces the dissipative structure theory to analyze the entropy budgets of the whole coupled human–Earth system and the key processes of the subsystems, and then presents the formulas to calculate these entropy budgets. The results show that the total net negative entropy of the coupled human–Earth system from exchange with space is sufficient, but only about 0.0042% of it is available for sustaining the life activities of the whole coupled system and the quantity of this portion is also not more than sufficient compared with the requirement of human life activities. In addition, the rate of negative entropy consumption by human subsystem from fossil fuels for sustaining modern civilization is too large, nearly a half of the negative entropy rate obtained by photosynthesis on the Earth, which indicates that entirely substituting biomass fuels for fossil fuels may be infeasible. The strategies for sustaining human life activities and modern civilization are proposed in the study, which would provide valuable information for humans to realize sustainable development. View Full-Text
Keywords: entropy flux; negative entropy; thermodynamics; dissipative structure theory; sustainable development entropy flux; negative entropy; thermodynamics; dissipative structure theory; sustainable development
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Shi, W. Entropy Analysis of the Coupled Human–Earth System: Implications for Sustainable Development. Sustainability 2017, 9, 1264.

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