Industrial metabolism and the linkages between economics, ethics and the environment

Anderberg S (1998). Industrial metabolism and the linkages between economics, ethics and the environment. Ecological Economics 24 (2-3): 311-320. DOI:10.1016/S0921-8009(97)00151-1.

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Abstract

With industrialization, the material flows in the world have grown enormously, expanded geographically and become more open and complex. Traditionally, the emissions have been strongly connected to earlier steps in the material flows (extraction and raw-materials intensive industry), but during the last few decades, the emissions from industrial pointsources have decreased radically in the Western industrialized world. The result of the industrial 'cleanup' is a shift towards the latter steps of the societal material flows; the relative importance of consumption emissions has increased. As indicated in studies of the Rhine Basin, important prerequisites for this development have been increasing environmental awareness and public opinion, putting pressure on legislators, authorities and companies and a dynamic industrial development with structural changes, that have permitted investments in modern technology and emissions control. Despite the often radical emission reductions, problems with acidification, eutrophication, diffusion of persistent organic chemicals and climate change still persist on a regional and global level. During the last decade, there has been an increasing emphasis on the international and global environmental problems. The materials flow perspective has experienced a major breakthrough. Waste minimization, recycling, life-cycle analysis and environmental auditing have become major themes in most European countries and have also started to influence industry. The importance of the consumer and his attitudes and actions, as well as the relationship between trade and environment are often emphasized in this context. The industrial metabolism approach needs further development to be able to assist in meeting the modern challenges of environmental management. To sum up flows of a few elements or products in a limited region is not sufficient. It is necessary to develop the analysis of the context of the flows, include industrial, economic and geographical change in the analysis and more actively seek connection to political and industrial decision-making and human behavior and attitudes. The time-geographical Process Landscape launched by Torsten Hagerstrand could be an important source of inspiration in this context.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Industrial metabolism; Material flows; Research challenges; The process landscape; The Rhine
Research Programs: Industrial Metabolism (IND)
Depositing User: Romeo Molina
Date Deposited: 22 Apr 2016 08:09
Last Modified: 22 Apr 2016 08:09
URI: http://pure.iiasa.ac.at/12888

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