Technology and culture and human interaction

Technology and culture and human interaction with the physical environment. In his writings over the past decade, Brad Allenby has proposed (at least) 16 principles of sustainable engineering (see references) that are collectively known as the Earth Systems Engineering and Management (ESEM) principles. These principles have merit and applicability in many disciplines and domains of discourse, but are sometimes awkward to use due to the quantity of words required to accurately express their meaning. In light of this, it has become necessary to formulate a simplified list of “abbreviated tags” for ease of reference in conversation and concise writing. This list of tags also makes the principles immediately accessible to those who may want to pursue the more thorough definitions offered by Allenby. The following tags have been proposed for use when a concise phrasing is required.

Technology and culture

Allenby’s ESEM principles have no implementation order required or implied. They are all equally important, though depending on the application, they may not all be equally relevant. In fact, in keeping with the complexity of the systems they purport to manage, they all must be applied simultaneously, or severally, as necessary to analyze and manage the target complex system. In his published lists, Allenby has loosely organized the principles into theoretical, governance, and design categories, but these categories are, in general, only of limited interest in most uses of the principles. Still, these categories are preserved in the table below with notes indicating when a principle has migrated into another category due to evolution in Allenby’s thought. On occasion, Allenby has also numbered the principles, but the numbers should not be used as a reliable reference since they have changed over time.


Allenby, B. (2000). Earth Systems Engineering and Management. IEEE Technology and Society, 19(4) 10-24.

Allenby, B. (2005). Reconstructing Earth: Technology and Environment in the Age of Humans. Washington, D.C.: Island Press. pp. 183-189.

Allenby, B. (2007). Earth Systems Engineering and Management: A Manifesto. Environmental Science & Technology, 41(23) 7960-7965.

Allenby, B. and Sarewitz, D. (2011). The Techno-Human Condition. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. pp. 162-174.

Allenby, B. (2012). The Theory and Practice of Sustainable Engineering. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson/Prentice Hall. pp. 356-373.

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