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Marina Fischer-Kowalski

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Edited by Marina Fischer-Kowalski and Helmut Haberl

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Marina Fischer-Kowalski and Helmut Haberl

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Socioecological Transitions and Global Change

Trajectories of Social Metabolism and Land Use

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.
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Marina Fischer-Kowalski and Helmut Haberl

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Marina Fischer-Kowalski and Julia K. Steinberger

The goal of this chapter is a macro-scale discussion of growth: human, economic and material, and the positive feedback links between these macro elements. A sustainability transition, we argue, must address the full spectrum of these macro forces, and do so with the awareness of the historical forces that have shaped them. We represent human society as feedback loops between economic activity (as measured by gross domestic product), human population, and social metabolism (measured as physical flows). The nodes of this triangle are mutually reinforcing: economic growth is in part driven by population growth, larger populations require more resources, more resource use enables greater economic investment and activity. We analyse these feedbacks quantitatively, globally and on regional levels. We find that the self-reinforcing power of these relations has gradually become weaker. If the system is not as self-amplifying any more, it equally might not be as self-diminishing. Thus, for high-income countries, no-/low-economic growth may no longer represent a systemic threat. However, for them, the issue at stake is higher: the departure from their high fossil fuel use, as well as a reduction in the use of material resources, is not a matter of no/low growth, but of substantial degrowth, at least biophysically. Globally speaking the current development model is extremely unsustainable, and probably many of those on the way will now be able to successfully achieve their goals because of global environmental and economic feedbacks.

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Clemens M. Grünbühel, Simron J. Singh and Marina Fischer-Kowalski

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Marina Fischer-Kowalski, Helmut Haberl and Fridolin Krausmann