The Metabolic Pattern of Societies: Where Economists Fall Short

by ;
  • ISBN13:


  • ISBN10:


  • Edition: 1st
  • Format: Hardcover
  • Copyright: 2011-11-28
  • Publisher: Routledge

Note: Supplemental materials are not guaranteed with Rental or Used book purchases.

Purchase Benefits

  • Free Shipping On Orders Over $35!
    Your order must be $35 or more to qualify for free economy shipping. Bulk sales, PO's, Marketplace items, eBooks and apparel do not qualify for this offer.
  • Get Rewarded for Ordering Your Textbooks! Enroll Now
List Price: $165.00 Save up to $137.18
  • Rent Book $140.25
    Add to Cart Free Shipping


Supplemental Materials

What is included with this book?

  • The New copy of this book will include any supplemental materials advertised. Please check the title of the book to determine if it should include any access cards, study guides, lab manuals, CDs, etc.
  • The Rental and eBook copies of this book are not guaranteed to include any supplemental materials. Typically, only the book itself is included. This is true even if the title states it includes any access cards, study guides, lab manuals, CDs, etc.


It is increasingly evident that the conventional scientific approach to economic processes and related sustainability issues is seriously flawed. No economist predicted the current planetary crisis even though the world has now undergone five severe recessions primed by dramatic increases in the price of oil. This book presents the results of more than twenty years of work aimed at developing an alternative method of analysis of the economic process and related sustainability issues: it is possible to perform an integrated and comprehensive analysis of the sustainability of socio-economic systems using indicators and variables that have been so far ignored by conventional economists. The book "s innovative approach aims to provide a better framework with which we can face the predicaments of sustainability issues. It begins by presenting practical examples of the shortcomings of conventional economic analysis and examines the systemic problems faced when trying to use quantitative analysis for governance. In providing a critical appraisal of current applications of economic narratives to the issue of sustainability, the book presents several innovative concepts required to generate a post-Newtonian approach to quantitative analysis in the Musiasemapproach. An empirical section illustrates the results of an analysis of structural changes in world and EU countries. Finally, the book, using the insight gained in the theoretical and empirical analysis, exposes the dubious quality of many narratives currently used in the sustainability debate. Overall, the performance of modern economies across different hierarchical levels of organization and across different disciplinary knowledge systems is fully analyzed and a more realistic measure of happiness and well-being is devised. The book should be of interest to researchers and students looking at the issue of sustainability within a variety of disciplines.

Table of Contents

List of figuresp. xi
List of tablesp. xvii
List of boxesp. xviii
Forewordp. xix
Prefacep. xxii
Acknowledgementsp. xxiv
Acronymsp. xxviii
The red pillp. 1
How real is the reality perceived and represented by economists?p. 1
The painful truthp. 3
The structure of the book and instructions for its usep. 13
The process of demographic change: the importance of multi-scale and multi-level analysisp. 22
Shortcomings of common per capita assessmentsp. 2
The intricate relation between demographic structure, social organization and economic performancep. 27
Lag-time dynamics: another look at ageing and immigrationp. 32
Going beyond economic energy intensity and Environmental Kuznets Curves: combining extensive and intensive variablesp. 37
Introductionp. 37
Multidimensional analysis requires semantic wisdom: energy intensityp. 38
Economic energy intensity across dimensions and scalesp. 41
Environmental Kuznets Curvesp. 55
Conclusionp. 60
The quality of quantitative analyses for governance: how to choose a relevant perception and a pertinent representationp. 62
Back to the basic epistemological challenge of quantitative modellingp. 62
An epistemological interpretation of the concept of complexityp. 64
The semiotic complex and semantic closurep. 65
The making of quantitative analysis: Rosen's Theory of Modelling Relationp. 75
Getting semantic closure when dealing with sustainability: the troubles on the normative sidep. 79
Systemic epistemological problems on the descriptive side: the challenge of multi-scale analysisp. 90
Additional source of ignorance for the quantitative representation: the semiotic process entails handling a complex perception of timep. 99
Conclusionsp. 102
A critical appraisal of conventional economic approaches to sustainability problemsp. 104
The magic of cost benefit analysisp. 104
The Contingent Valuation Method: can we measure the "real" value of our planet?p. 110
Quantitative representations of becoming systems have an expiry datep. 114
The concept of sustainability entails a post-normal science: the systemic problems on the normative side faced by the use of economic narrativesp. 119
Autistic economics: the fatal attractor of formalism nonsensep. 125
Conclusionsp. 134
Five theoretical pillars of MuSIASEM for a new quantitative analysis of sustainabilityp. 136
The concept of grammarp. 137
Theoretical concepts associated with autopoiesisp. 146
The concept of the dynamic energy budgetp. 154
Taming the concept of impredicativity: impredicative loop analysisp. 157
The mosaic effectp. 163
Conclusionp. 173
Building blocks of the MuSIASEM approachp. 175
The basic concept of metabolismp. 175
Operationalizing the concept of societal metabolism: Georgescu-Roegen's flow-fund modelp. 183
MuSIASEM to analyse the metabolic pattern of societies: constraints and benchmarks on the supply sidep. 195
MuSIASEM to analyse the metabolic pattern of societies: constraints and benchmarks on the demand sidep. 205
Applying Sudoku procedures to the multi-purpose grammar of MuSIASEMp. 210
The MuSIASEM approach: a wrap upp. 214
Looking for "beyond-GDP indicators": bioeconomic pressurep. 216
Bioeconomic pressure: a "beyond-GDP" indicatorp. 217
Selection of sample, materials and methodsp. 222
Comparing BEP and GDP per capita in relation to economic developmentp. 227
Comparing BEP and GDP per capita in relation to other indicators of developmentp. 240
Representing the metabolic pattern in a three-dimensional space: "GDP p.c-exo/endo-THA/HAPS" and "BEP-exo/endo-THA/HAPS"p. 247
Conclusionsp. 256
An international comparison of the metabolic pattern of modern societies at the level of economic sectorsp. 258
Checking the viability of the dynamic equilibrium in relation to the characteristics of internal compartmentsp. 258
Data sources, materials and methodsp. 261
A comparison of changes taking place in the EU14 countries (1992-2005)p. 264
Analysing the integrated set of changes across compartments in a historic viewp. 277
The problem with energy accounting when acknowledging the existence of two distinct relevant energy forms: primary energy sources and energy carriersp. 282
Conclusionsp. 286
Other applications of MuSIASEMp. 288
The analysis of urban metabolism: a grammar useful to analyse the metabolic pattern of householdsp. 288
Two case studies of analysis of urban household metabolism in Barcelonap. 294
A multi-scale analysis of urban waste metabolismp. 298
The metabolic pattern of waterp. 303
The metabolic pattern across multiple scales: from the local to the global picturep. 307
Poor narratives and granfalloons hampering the sustainability debate: can we escape Soddy's prophecy?p. 316
The demographic dimensionp. 317
The implications of peak-oil are grossly underestimatedp. 321
The world crusade on climate changep. 329
The dangerous formation of granfalloonsp. 334
Can we escape Soddy's prophecy?p. 340
What went wrong and where do we go from here?p. 349
How dangerous is the fairytale of perpetual growth?p. 349
Confusing a transitional period with a steady-state situationp. 352
Reason for optimism: the Robinson Crusoe effectp. 355
On the concept of sustainabilityp. 356
How does the MuSIASEM approach fit in?p. 358
What should we change in sustainability science?p. 360
Rediscovering Buddhist wisdomp. 363
Appendix: illustration of the MuSIASEM approachp. 365
Glossaryp. 382
Notesp. 390
Referencesp. 391
Indexp. 406
Table of Contents provided by Ingram. All Rights Reserved.

Rewards Program

Write a Review