Multi-Scale Integrated Analysis of Societal and Ecosystem Metabolism

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= an open framework able to take into account the economic, environmental, social, cultural, technical and political dimensions in an integrated analysis, accounting for different flows such as monetary, energy, waste or water.

URL = http://societalmetabolism.org/?page_id=412

"framework, developed by Mario Giampietro et al. of U of Barcelona for mapping out the patterns, flows and funds of complex entangled real world problems."


Description

1.

"The results of the MuSIASEM (Multi-Scale Integrated Analysis of Societal and Ecosystem Metabolism ) are sets of georreferenced vectorial indicators that are easy to understand, and this is one of the strengths of the method. But it is build on strong and heavy theoretical blocks.

This is the kind of model we need to compare between market efficiency and social knowledge economy/p2p efficiency... "


2. From the Wikipedia: "MuSIASEM or Multi-Scale Integrated Analysis of Societal and Ecosystem Metabolism,[1][2][3][4] is a method of accounting used to analyse socio-ecosystems and to simulate possible patterns of development. It is based on maintaining coherence across scales and different dimensions (e.g. economic, demographic, energetic) of quantitative assessments generated using different metrics. It is designed to detect and analyze patterns in the societal use of resources and the impacts they create on the environment. The approach was created around 1997 by Mario Giampietro and Kozo Mayumi, and has been developed since then by the members of the IASTE (Integrated Assessment: Sociology, Technology and the Environment) group at the Institute of Environmental Science and Technology of the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona and its external collaborators. MuSIASEM strives to characterize metabolic patterns of Socio-Ecological Systems (how and why humans use resources and how this use depends on and affects the stability of the ecosystems embedding the society). This integrated approach allows for a quantitative implementation of the DPSIR framework (Drivers, Pressures, States, Impacts and Responses) and application as a decision support tool. Different alternatives of the option space can be checked in terms of feasibility (compatibility with processes outside human control), viability (compatibility with processes under human control) and desirability (compatibility with normative values and institutions). The ability to integrate quantitative assessments across dimensions and scales makes MuSIASEM particularly suited for different types of sustainability analysis: (i) the nexus between food, energy, water and land uses; (ii) urban metabolism; (iii) waste metabolism; (iv) tourism metabolism; (v) rural development." (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MuSIASEM)


Discussion

Andres Delgado:

"SENPLADES working in cooperation with the IASTE group [1] have built an open framework able to take into account the economic, environmental, social, cultural, technical and political dimensions in an integrated analysis, accounting for different flows such as monetary, energy, waste or water. As a result, ultimately we can get congruent relations among the different set of variables.

The results of the MuSIASEM (Multi-Scale Integrated Analysis of Societal and Ecosystem Metabolism ) are sets of geo-referenced vectorial indicators that are easy to understand, and this is one of the strengths of the method. But it is build on strong and heavy theoretical blocks.

  • THIS* is the kind of model we need to compare between market

efficiency and social knowledge economy/p2p efficiency... "


Rationale behind MuSIASEM Scheme

By Mario Giampietro et al. :

"The methodology presented here is called Multi-Scale Integrated Analysis of Societal and Ecosystem Metabolism (MuSIASEM) - originally termed as MultiScale Integrated Analysis of Societal Metabolism (MSIASM) and later extended to include the interplay between the socioeconomic systems and the ecosystems. It was introduced by Giampietro and Mayumi (1997, 2000a, 2000b) and more systematically investigated by Giampietro (2003). Empirical analyses based on this approach have been conducted on several countries including Ecuador (Falconi-Benitez, 2001), Spain (Ramos-Martin, 2001), and Vietnam (RamosMartin and Giampietro, 2005).


The rationale behind the MuSIASEM scheme can be summarized as follows:

(i) energetic and material flows can be analyzed using the concept of endosomatic and exosomatic metabolism in relation to Georgescu-Roegen’s flow-fund scheme;

(2) the structure of the dynamic budget of the metabolism can be analyzed using the bioeconomic analogy of hypercycle and dissipative parts in ecosystems;

(3) economic development entails dramatic changes in the overall size of metabolism, the pace of metabolism and the structural typology of the dynamic budget of energy, forcing a dramatic reallocation of the profiles of human activity and land uses over the various sectors of the economy.


Lotka (1956) introduced the notion of human society consisting of a double metabolism:

(i) one related to endosomatic organs part to the human body; and

(ii) another related to exosomatic organs fabricated by humans such as tools and mechanical devices.

This idea was further elaborated by Georgescu-Roegen (1971) in his efforts to integrate economic and biophysical processes in view of sustainability. To effectively address this double-metabolism and to indicate the need for an integrated approach to sustainability issues, Georgescu-Roegen - 2 - introduced the term Bioeconomics and the flow-fund scheme. Flow coordinates are elements that enter but do not exit the production process or, conversely elements that exit without having entered the process (e.g., a new product). Flow coordinates include matter and energy in situ, controlled matter and energy, and dissipated matter and energy. Fund coordinates (capital, labor, and Ricardian land) are agents that enter and exit the process, transforming input flows into output flows. Fund coordinates can only be used at a specified rate and must be periodically renewed. Georgescu-Roegen’s scheme can account for scale and time duration and address the question of whether or not a given technology is viable. A technology is viable if and only if the economic system it represents can operate steadily, with environmental flows of available energy and matter forthcoming in necessary amounts in relation to the constraints determined by the fund elements. Georgescu-Roegen’s scheme is based on an explicit acknowledgment of both multi-scale integrated analysis and the existence of biophysical constraints on the process of economic development (GeorgescuRoegen, 1977).

Another crucial idea associated with the MuSIASEM scheme is Zipf’s characterization of socioeconomic development as bio-social forms of organization (Zipf, 1941). Zipf proposed a basic principle of socioeconomic development: in order to be able to consume more, a socioeconomic system has to invest more in the consumption sectors both in terms of capital formation and human time. In his analysis of ecosystem structure, Ulanowicz (1986) introduced a similar idea based on Eigen’s pioneering work (Eigen, 1971). According to Ulanowicz, the network of matter and energy flows making up an ecosystem can be divided into two parts: one part is a hypercycle and the other is a purely dissipative part. The hypercycle part is a net energy supplier for the rest of the ecosystem. Since dissipation is always “necessary to build and maintain structures at [the] sub-compartment level” (Ulanowicz 1986: 119), the part producing a net supply of energy for the rest must comprise activities that generate a positive feedback by taking advantage of gradient of free energy outside the system (e.g. solar energy). The role of the hypercyclic part is to drive and keep the whole ecosystem away from thermodynamic equilibrium. The dissipative part comprises activities that are net energy degraders. However, this part is not useless for the whole system. The dissipative part provides a control mechanism over the entire process of energy transformations, explores innovations (guaranteeing adaptability) and stabilizes the evolutionary sustainability of the whole system. In fact, an ecosystem made of a hypercyclic part alone cannot be stable over time. Without the stabilizing effect of the dissipative part, a positive feedback “will be reflected upon itself without attenuation, and eventually the upward spiral will exceed any conceivable bounds” (Ulanowicz, 1986: 57). In the analogy with human societies the hypercyclic part of the society is made up by the economic sectors generating profit and goods and services and the purely dissipative part the final consumption sector.

One of the theoretical pillars of MuSIASEM is that the technological development of a society can be described in terms of an acceleration of energy and material consumption together with the dramatic reallocation of distribution of age classes, human time profile of activities and land use patterns in various sectors of modern economy, resulting in time and land saving in the energy and agricultural sectors (Mayumi, 1991). Within the MuSIASEM scheme qualitative differences in energy forms are not addressed using thermodynamic concepts such as exergy or enthalpy. Rather, the time dimension of energy transformation in the energy sector and its relation to other economic sectors is used to focus on crucial qualitative factors, which are neglected in the traditional biophysical and thermodynamic analysis. MuSIASEM is an attempt to incorporate these qualitative differences in the intensity of flows into a simple scheme that can be used to analyze the societal metabolism of an economy for sustainability issues." (http://www.ecap.uab.es/RePEc/doc/wpdea0801.pdf)

More Information

  • The book: Resource Accounting for Sustainability: The Nexus between Energy, Food, Water and Land Use. Ed. by Giampietro, M., Aspinall, R.J., Ramos-Martin, J. and Bukkens, S.G.F. Routledge, 2014
  • Article: Multi-Scale Integrated Analysis of Societal and Ecosystem Metabolism (MUSIASEM): An Outline of Rationale and Theory. By Mario Giampietro, Kozo Mayumi, Jesus Ramos-Martin.

URL = http://www.ecap.uab.es/RePEc/doc/wpdea0801.pdf

"This paper presents an outline of rationale and theory of the MuSIASEM scheme (Multi-Scale Integrated Analysis of Societal and Ecosystem Metabolism). First, three points of the rationale behind our MuSIASEM scheme are discussed: (i) endosomatic and exosomatic metabolism in relation to Georgescu-Roegen’s flow-fund scheme; (2) the bioeconomic analogy of hypercycle and dissipative parts in ecosystems; (3) the dramatic reallocation of human time and land use patterns in various sectors of modern economy. Next, a flow-fund representation of the MUSIASEM scheme on three levels (the whole national level, the paid work sectors level, and the agricultural sector level) is illustrated to look at the structure of the human economy in relation to two primary factors: (i) human time - a fund; and (ii) exosomatic energy - a flow. The three levels representation uses extensive and intensive variables simultaneously. Key conceptual tools of the MuSIASEM scheme - mosaic effects and impredicative loop analysis - are explained using the three level flow-fund representation. Finally, we claim that the MuSIASEM scheme can be seen as a multi-purpose grammar useful to deal with sustainability issues. "