30 March 2015

  • (Arrow et al. 1995)
    • Economic growth, carrying capacity, and the environment, Science, 1995 (Arrow et al. 1995)
      • Outlines the origin and current evidence for the Environmental Kuznets Curve (EKC)
      • Asko meeting report
  • (Arrow et al. 2004)
    • Are we consuming too much (Arrow et al. 2004)
    • Journal of Economic Perspectives
  • (J. H. Brown et al. 2014)
    • Malthusian vs. Darwinian dynamics (i.e. growth and resource limitation vs. organic and cultural selection for innovation to circumvent those)
    • Malthusians [population, resource limitation and conflict] vs. Cornucopians [technological innovation to facilitate eternal growth]
      • (Hall and Day 2014) call Malthusians - resource constrainists i guess the difference is in whether population or finite resources is seen as the ultimate causal agent.
  • (Hall and Day 2014)

    • *Title: “Why arent’t contemporary ecologists and economicsts addressing resource and energy scarcity: The major problems of the 21st century”
    • Focus: Peak oil and indistural civilization (i.e. energy-intensive, capitalist, growth-oriented, market-driven originally developed in the West).
    • Referencing use:
      1. Industrial civilization paradigm of the West as the economic paradigm that has led to high levels of resource use intensities.
      2. Sustainability-oriented research has not addressed issues of population, energy and key resources (e.g. metals).
      3. Resource issues emerged due to growth in the population and in the economy.
      4. Sustainability science - blind spots in the natural sciences.
        • All too often the idea of sustainability is conflated with the idea of “green”
        • Sustainability cience does not deal with the growth paradigm and the energy intensive society
        • (J. R. Burger et al. 2012) Burger et al 2012 found that sustainability research (23,535 published papers) more commonly used words like “development” and “economics” than “ecology” and “ecological” and even less often “thermodynamic” & “steady state”.
      5. Important to remain open about economic paradigms since “the success of the neo-classical economic paradigm may have been conflated with the access to large amount of high quality energy resources and metals*. E.g. (paraphrasing) even communism in the 70’s under high degree of resource access looked to be an ecnoomically viable strategy.
      6. Research question: Is neoclassical ecnomics able to deal with issues of resource scarcity and population and in particular degradation of naturla systems.
        • Gowdy et al. 2004: This is due to a misassessment of the role of nature in the economy
          • Externalization of pollution effects
          • Characterizing depletion of resources as current income
          • Assuming that natural capital, social (i.e. human) capital, and financial capital are absolute susbstitutes for one another.
    • Intro
    • Asks question: Why aren’t contemporary ecologists and economicsts addressing energy and resource scarcity
    • Claims: Energy and resource scarcity are “the major problems of the 21st century”
    • Intractable problems are caused by - population, resource scarcity, impact economy
      • PSJ: Couldn’t this be flipped on its head - the economic system is causing resource scarcity?
    • Problems already identified in the 1950s, 60s, 70s
      • Scarcity of cheap high-quality energy
    • Observation (unreferenced): Ecologists rarely address resource scarcity in a human context

    • Mentors/pioneers
    • Scholars that pioneered resource scarcity work:
      • US ecologists - Garrett Hardin, Paul Ehrlich, Eugene Odum and Howard Odum, David Pimentel, Kenneth Watt
      • US economists - Kenneth Boulding, Herman Daly
      • US computer scientists - Jay Forrester, Dennis Meadows, Donnella Meadows
    • Question: Has technology and market economics solved and invalidated the specific and general predictions of the limits to growth model?
    • After a period of much attention, the issue of humans and global resources disappeared from most teachning, research and public discourse - ESPECIALLY IN ECOLOGY WAS THIS PERVASIVE
      • Claim: Ecologists today are rarely concerned with global resource scarcity and are often unaware of global resource issues.
      • Claim (referenced): There has been a movement to marginalize poopulation growth
        • Bartlett 1998 - Social Contract - The massive movement to marginalize the modern Malthusian message
    • Claim: Failure of contemporary thnkers including “sustainability” researchers to address energy (oil), resources (metals) and population.
      • This Failure will be known to future generations as “grand folly”
    • Resource constranist (Malthusian) references to check out:
      • HT Odum, “Environment, Power and Society” (1971)
        • Ecological laws and laws of energy apply to ALL organisms
      • Meadows “Limits to Growth” (1972)
        • Decline in quality of life and even population size
      • Hubbert “Energy resources” in “Resources and man” (1969)
        • Peak US (conventional) oil production in 1970
        • Glbal peak conventional oil production in 2000s (first decade of 21st century)
    • Resource issues up until early 1970’s
    • Malthus 1778 considered the first to raise the issue of resource constrains
      • The failure of his prediction due to discovery of oil and application to agriculture which allowed food production to follow with population growth.
      • It could be argued that this observations is consistent with the human ingenuity, resource substitution and technological innovation argument of Cornucopians
    • Increasing, then vaining interest in resource constraints
    • Oil crists of the seventies sparked interest in issues of resource constraints
    • US started importing oil from the Middle East in the 1980’s in resopnse to oil shortages.
      • “Economists became leaders in addressing resource issues”
    • Turning away from constraintist issues
    • Observation (unreferenced): In the 1970’s and 1980’s ecology turned away from human issues and focused on natural populations, communities, ecosystems.
      • PSJ: This must have been a big line and focus of research before. So it was a similarly dynamics seen in economics where a mainstreaming and decrease in diversity of issues and methods took place.
    • As the population and economy grew, a number of resource issues emerged.
      • Depletion of highest quality fuels
      • The intellectural bakruptcy of conventional neoclassical economics and its inabilities to resolve or even understand the issues of depletion
      • Degradation of natural systems
      • Loss of goods and services from natural systems
      • Climate change
      • (Unsustainable poopulation growth)
    • Issues with neo-classical economics

    • Why are ecology and economics not addressing these problems?
    • Not because constrainists were wrong or because their work was not well-known.
    • Neo-classical economics in becoming the dominant paradigm in political economy has decreased the role of resource issues in decision making
    • Ecologists are no llonger trained to think that resource constraints are important or within their puriew
      • Increasing academic specialization is leading to increasing academic fragmentation
      • Ecologists have taken up residence in biology departments
        • Ecologists should be among te most integrative and interdisiplinary of scientists.
        • The tenure system discourages young faculty from taking on broad, systems oriented problems.
        • Similar things can be said about funding agencies.
        • Resource and population problems do not fit comfortably within any academic discipline.
    • The publications that are avaiablel are generally in the form of books directed toward broad audiences
      • Mainstram scientific publications about these issues remain rare.

  • (Lenzen et al. 2012)
    • “Our findings clearly demonstrate that local trheats to species are driven by economic activity and consumer demand across the world.”


Arrow, Kenneth, Bert Bolin, Robert Costanza, Partha Dasgupta, Carl Folke, C. S. Holling, Bengt Owe Jansson, et al. 1995. “Economic growth, carrying capacity, and the environment.” Science (New York, N.Y.) 28: 520–21. doi:10.1126/science.268.5210.520.

Arrow, Kenneth, Partha Dasgupta, Lawrence Goulder, Gretchen Daily, Paul Ehrlich, Geoffrey Heal, Simon Levin, Karl-Göran Mäler, Stephen Schneider, and David Starrett. 2004. “Are we consuming too much?” The Journal of Economic Perspectives 18 (3): 147–72. doi:10.1111/j.1523-1739.2007.00770.x.

Brown, James H, Joseph R Burger, William R Burnside, Michael Chang, Ana D Davidson, Trevor S Fristoe, Marcus J Hamilton, et al. 2014. “Macroecology Meets Macroeconomics: Resource Scarcity and Global Sustainability.” Ecological Engineering 65 (April). Elsevier B.V.: 24–32. doi:10.1016/j.ecoleng.2013.07.071.

Burger, Joseph R., Craig D. Allen, James H. Brown, William R. Burnside, Ana D. Davidson, Trevor S. Fristoe, Marcus J. Hamilton, et al. 2012. “The Macroecology of Sustainability.” Edited by Georgina M. Mace. PLoS Biology 10 (6). Public Library of Science: e1001345. doi:10.1371/journal.pbio.1001345.

Hall, Charles A. S., and John W. Day. 2014. “Why aren’t contemporary ecologists and economists addressing resource and energy scarcity: The major problems of the 21st century?” Ecological Engineering 65 (April): 49–53. doi:10.1016/j.ecoleng.2013.12.020.

Lenzen, M., D. Moran, K. Kanemoto, B. Foran, L. Lobefaro, and A. Geschke. 2012. “International trade drives biodiversity threats in developing nations.” Nature 486 (7401). Nature Publishing Group: 109–12. doi:10.1038/nature11145.

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