Handbook of Environmental and Resource Economics
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Handbook of Environmental and Resource Economics

Edited by Jeroen C.J.M. van den Bergh

This major reference book comprises specially commissioned surveys in environmental and resource economics written by an international team of experts. Authoritative yet accessible, each entry provides a state-of-the-art summary of key areas that will be invaluable to researchers, practitioners and advanced students.
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Chapter 64: EMERGY, Value, Ecology and Economics

R.A. Herendeen


Robert A. Herendeen 1. Introduction EMERGY’ analysis is a bold and broad-reaching attempt to quantify the role of the environment in supporting economic activity. It was developed by Howard T. Odum and his students in a long line of publications, starting with energy in ecosystems in the 1950s and expanding to a societal and global purview in the book Environment, Power, and Society (Odum, 1971). The latest output is the edited volume Maximum Power: The Ideas and f Applications o H.T Odum (Hall, 1995), and Odum’s 1996 book Environmental Accounting. Other references include Fontaine (198 1); Gilliland (1975); Odum (1983a, 1983b, 1986, 1988, 1995); Odum and Pinkerton (1955); Odum, Lavine et al. (1981); Odum and Odum (1981); Odum and Arding (1991). Various terms have been tried; ‘EMERGY’ has been used for at least a decade. The influence of the environment on the economy is the least understood of the connections in the ecological-economic synthesis. To be sure, there are many fruitful attempts, but they tend to be semi-quantitative, linear, and cannot yet answer the fundamental questions: ‘How much are environmental services really worth, and how much impact is required to seriously impair them?’Among the useful works are Westman (1985); Archibugi and Nijkamp (1989); de Groot (1992); and Costanza et al. (1997). The latter is an evaluation of the monetary value ($/year) of the world’s major ecosystem types. EMERGY analysis goes far beyond other, partial attempts in a comprehensive method that traces all environmental services back to the sunlight that...

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