Socioecological Transitions and Global Change

Socioecological Transitions and Global Change

Trajectories of Social Metabolism and Land Use

Advances in Ecological Economics series

Edited by Marina Fischer-Kowalski and Helmut Haberl

This significant new book analyses fundamental changes in society-nature interaction: the socioeconomic use of materials, energy and land. The volume presents a number of case studies addressing transitions from an agrarian to an industrial socioecological regime, analysed within the materials and energy flow accounting (MEFA) framework. It is argued that by concentrating on the biophysical dimensions of change in the course of industrialization, social development issues can be explicitly linked to changes in the natural environment.

Chapter 5: The Local Base of the Historical Agrarian – Industrial Transition and the Interaction between Scales

Helmut Haberl and Fridolin Krausmann

Subjects: environment, ecological economics, environmental sociology


Helmut Haberl and Fridolin Krausmann 5.1 INTRODUCTION Profound changes in Austria’s socioecological systems occurred during its transition from an agrarian to the present industrial regime in the years from 1830 to present, as already shown in Chapter 2 of this volume. In this chapter we proceed with an analysis of this transition process in three different local situations. We discuss one urban and two rural case studies and then try to demonstrate a fundamental change in the relations between local and national scales during transitions from an agrarian to an industrial regime. In the course of the 19th and 20th centuries, Austria was transformed from an advanced agrarian society, in which farmers and their families made up three-quarters of the population, into a classical industrial society, in which manufacturing was dominant, and finally into a modern ‘service economy’, in which the lion’s share of the GDP is produced in service sectors. Overall, total GDP rose almost 30-fold and per-capita GDP 12-fold throughout the period 1830–2000. This transition was only possible because Austria switched from an areadependent, biomass-based energy system to an energy system heavily reliant on (mostly imported) fossil fuels. While coal was dominant throughout the 19th century and well into the first half of the 20th century, oil, and later natural gas, gained importance in the second half of the 20th century. These changes in the energy system allowed an almost threefold increase in the amount of primary energy available per capita, and an approximately sevenfold increase...

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