Web Publication last added to or revised on 15 October 2021


We currently face a web of problems. Many problems have easy solutions, but sometimes an apparently easy solution to a problem has unintended consequences. This is because we had not fully understood the problem – the dynamics and interconnections. Many people regard a number of problems as being isolated problems when, in reality, they are dynamically connected. For example, problems caused by exceeding planetary boundaries are exacerbated by climate change. These problems include desertification, deforestation, extinction of species, diminishing aquifers, diminishing fertile soil, and increasing scarcity of fresh water supplies. The list goes on. The response to each of these problems individually or as a combination forms part of the web of problems because some responses such as resistance to change can result in further problems. 

The problems we face do not form individual linear chains of cause and effect. We need to understand the interconnections and dynamics of the problems in order to resolve the problems individually and in combination. A standard book approach to learning about the web-like nature of these problems has its limitations due to the linear nature of reading. Using multiple footnotes or endnotes is an improvement. David Fleming adopted a dictionary approach with cross references in his hardcopy book LEAN LOGIC: A dictionary for the future and how to survive it.  An electronic form of his book is even more useful. Shaun Chamberlin has converted David Fleming's book into an online version This online version could be improved with a more easily accessible glossary, index of terms, and a search engine. The software HelpNDoc provides these features and this is the software used to develop this web publication. There is no need to read this web publication from start to finish. Active learning is encouraged by delving into whatever takes your interest.  

The content of this website publication is based on primary sources - peer reviewed publications in international high-ranked journal publications, books authored by researchers with a background of peer reviewed publications, and reputable research organisations. 

The Chapter Principles of Sustainability provides a necessary background to understanding the fundamental role of energy and ecological systems which underpin the future sustainability of human settlements.. 

The Chapter Issues of Sustainability addresses the interlinked issues which threaten the future sustainability of human settlements. 

Lack of critical thinking has led to widespread misunderstanding and misinformation about issues of sustainability. The first Section Critical Thinking in the Chapter Issues of Sustainability is provided to help counter this. 

The Chapter Human Settlements provides a background to understanding the possible nature of sustainable Human Settlements in the future. 

The Chapter Steady State Settlements explores the nature of sustainable human settlements in 200 years time based on what is physically possible in terms of energy, resources, and technology.  

The Chapter Transition is based on alternative viable pathways from Growth Human Settlements to Steady State Human Settlements. Basing transition pathways on extrapolation of the past and wishful thinking runs the risk of pursuing dead end pathways both figuratively and literally. A backward planning approach based on what is physically possible in the future and then planning forwards in the present avoids future dead ends.