Joint Production and Responsibility in Ecological Economics
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Joint Production and Responsibility in Ecological Economics

On the Foundations of Environmental Policy

Stefan Baumgärtner, Malte Faber and Johannes Schiller

This groundbreaking book takes a fresh look at how environmental problems emerge from economic activity and how they may be addressed in a responsible and sustainable manner. At its centre is the concept of joint production. This captures the phenomenon whereby several effects necessarily emerge from one activity and whereby human action always entails unintended consequences. This, according to the authors, is the structural cause behind modern-day environmental problems.
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Chapter 4: Joint Production, Stocks, and Dynamics

Stefan Baumgärtner, Malte Faber and Johannes Schiller


∗ 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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