Edited by Matthias Ruth and Brynhildur Davidsdottir
Chapter 3: Regional Dynamics and Industrial Ecosystems: An Introduction
David L. Rigby INTRODUCTION 3.1 An industrial ecosystem might be broadly conceived as a network of producers and consumers that transform resources and that are more or less loosely connected by flows of materials and energy (Allenby and Richards 1994; Ayres and Ayres 1996; Graedel and Allenby 2003). If we do not specify too closely the nature of the interaction between economic agents, then the world economy as a whole might be considered a single, large industrial ecosystem. As we adjust the resolution of our analysis and examine subsets of flows, attention focuses on particular branches of industry, for example the automobile or pulp and paper sectors, on particular economies such as Canada, Los Angeles or Kalundborg, or on individual industries within specific regions, for example semiconductor production in Silicon Valley. There are significant trade-offs to consider as we shift scales of analysis. At larger scales the industrial ecosystem is generally more complex and it displays greater heterogeneity (more economic agents, more industries, more institutions, more technologies), though at smaller scales drawing meaningful boundaries around subsets of economic agents in sectoral or spatial terms is difficult, and flows of energy, materials, wastes and information across system boundaries will likely be large. Cross-border flows imply that regions are not isolated or independent. For example, how much of the materials flows that sustain individual economies such as the United States are located within those same economies? From the standpoint of the ecologist, such flows might not represent a significant problem, for fluxes...
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