Monday, July 31, 2006

Introducing.........'Ecological Economics'

Do we want to consume ourselves to death? (Consumption obesity disorder!)

Thanks to Robert Metcalfe for the following. Check out his blog at .

Consumption in ecological economics.

Entry prepared for the Internet Encyclopedia of Ecological Economics

by Inge Ropke
Department for Manufacturing Engineering and Management
Technical University of Denmark

April 2005


'The core idea of ecological economics is that the human economy is embedded in nature and that economic processes are simultaneously natural processes in the sense that they can be described as biological, physical and chemical processes. Thus society can be seen as an 'organism' with a 'social metabolism' based on flows of energy and matter, and this organism can take up more or less 'space' in the geo-biosphere of the earth. The greater the size – or scale – of the human economy, the greater the risk of destroying the conditions for human life on earth in the long run, and as humans will never know the exact limits, margins must be left. The researchers who gathered in ecological economics agreed that the scale of the economy was now so large that nature's basic life support systems for humans are threatened. In other words, there are limits to the material growth of the economy, and these limits have already been reached or exceeded. This is all the more so, since most ecological economists add a consideration for the living conditions of species other than humans.

As the scale of the economy has to be limited in the interest of future generations and in the interest of other species, the global problems of poverty cannot be solved through economic growth. To increase the environmental space for improving the living standards of the poor, the affluent have to reduce their appropriation of natural resources and pollution absorption capacity. Although technological change can be managed in ways that increase the flow of services achieved from a given throughput of energy and matter, such efficiency increases will not be sufficient to meet the challenge. Therefore, the s“ufficiency revolution” has to be accompanied by a “sufficiency revolution among the richest fifth of the world population. Accordingly, living standards and consumption had to appear on the agenda of ecological economics.'’

Taken from an article by Inge Ropke presented at


At 4:14 pm, Blogger Robert Metcalfe said...

Glad this could be of some use. These articles are a nice introduction to different subject matters - especially from the ecological perspective.

At 6:50 pm, Blogger Pete Smith said...

This looks as if it'll be useful for getting my ideas into some semblance of order 8-) (once I've got my assignment finished)
Interesting to see Sandrine Simon's name when I followed the link, she was/is on the U316 course team.

At 8:40 pm, Blogger Matt Burge said...

>Interesting to see Sandrine Simon's name when I followed the link, she was/is on the U316 course team.

Interesting. Nice to see the OU in there. Think this area of study is important if I read it correctly; basically looking to cost in externalities via workable economic instruments, factoring in human/consumer behaviour. It's worrying however that they aren't getting more research money to look into different methods.


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