On the Foundations of Environmental Policy
Advances in Ecological Economics series
Chapter 4: Joint Production, Stocks, and Dynamics
∗ Introduction: System Dynamics as Stock Dynamics 4.1 This book is about the phenomenon of joint production and its role in the interaction between the economy, society and the natural environment. Taking on the perspective of sustainability, it is necessary (i) to take the dynamics of these interactions into focus and (ii), in so doing, to adopt a long time horizon. When dealing with long-term behaviour of such coupled systems, many fundamental diﬃculties occur. For instance, system behaviour is likely to be very complex, and a lot of boundary and initial conditions are generally unknown. So, one has to deal extensively with uncertainty and ignorance. Also, interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary approaches are necessary because the systems under study generally transcend the scope of individual scientiﬁc disciplines. A traditional way of approaching ecological-economic systems’ longterm dynamics, which is in particular adopted in the natural sciences, is the use and coupling of process-based numeric models. The results are complex model systems which, on the one hand, display similar problems of hyper-complexity as real ecological-economic systems themselves but, on the other hand, still neglect many aspects which may be important for ‘true’ long-term prediction. While these approaches are important and valuable, we want to follow a diﬀerent and, in our view, complementary path: In this chapter, we introduce the interdisciplinary concept of stocks for the investigation of long-term dynamics of ecological-economic systems. It is an important and rather simple concept which can be applied to a broad range of subjects. It allows...
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