Edited by Jeroen C.J.M. van den Bergh
Chapter 64: EMERGY, Value, Ecology and Economics
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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