Biography

John Petersen is Professor of Environmental Studies and Biology and chair of Oberlin College’s Environmental Studies Program. A systems ecologist by training, Dr Petersen’s research focuses on understanding flows of energy, cycles of material and feedback control mechanisms operating in environmental and social systems. With support from the U.S. and Ohio EPA, the Great Lakes Protection Fund and others he and his colleagues are developing the “Environmental Dashboard” as a technology and approach for developing real-time feedback display technologies for cities, organizations and individual buildings. The “Building Dashboard” technology he and his students developed in the mid—1990s is now installed in thousands of buildings across the U.S. and Canada.

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As individuals we accept that our health is something that can and should be monitored. A routine medical checkup begins and ends with measurement. Weight, height, blood pressure, temperature, and pulse are all checked. Routine blood work includes blood sugar and cholesterol, and all are compared with what are considered normal values. If …

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For more than 99.9 percent of the 500,000 years of modern human evolution, the decisions that we have made as individuals and within communities were informed by the direct and intimate feedback we received from the natural world around us. Our success in securing food, fuel, fiber, and shelter to support our families and to […]

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Humans are a miraculous example of evolutionary success. Our ability to engage in rational thought, to form cooperative groups, to share information through complex symbols, to make and use sophisticated tools: all of these things have enabled us to spread and flourish. However, at the dawn of the 21st century the features and manifestations …

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