Metabolic Pattern of Societies

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* Book: The Metabolic Pattern of Societies: Where Economists Fall Short. By Mario Giampietro, Kozo Mayumi, Alevgül H. Sorman. Routledge / CRC Press, 2014



"It is increasingly evident that the conventional scientific approach to economic processes and related sustainability issues is seriously flawed. No economist predicted the current planetary crisis even though the world has now undergone five severe recessions primed by dramatic increases in the price of oil. This book presents the results of more than twenty years of work aimed at developing an alternative method of analysis of the economic process and related sustainability issues: it is possible to perform an integrated and comprehensive analysis of the sustainability of socio-economic systems using indicators and variables that have been so far ignored by conventional economists.

The book’s innovative approach aims to provide a better framework with which we can face the predicaments of sustainability issues. It begins by presenting practical examples of the shortcomings of conventional economic analysis and examines the systemic problems faced when trying to use quantitative analysis for governance. In providing a critical appraisal of current applications of economic narratives to the issue of sustainability, the book presents several innovative concepts required to generate a post-Newtonian approach to quantitative analysis in the Musiasem approach. An empirical section illustrates the results of an analysis of structural changes in world and EU countries. Finally, the book, using the insight gained in the theoretical and empirical analysis, exposes the dubious quality of many narratives currently used in the sustainability debate.

Overall, the performance of modern economies across different hierarchical levels of organization and across different disciplinary knowledge systems is fully analyzed and a more realistic measure of happiness and well-being is devised. The book should be of interest to researchers and students looking at the issue of sustainability within a variety of disciplines."


1. The Red Pill: How Real is the Reality Perceived and Represented by Economists?

2. The Process of Demographic Change: The Importance of Multi-Scale and Multi-Level Analysis

3. Going Beyond Economic Energy Intensity and Environmental Kuznets Curves: Combining Extensive and Intensive Variables

4. The Quality of Quantitative Analyses for Governance: How to Choose a Relevant Perception and a Pertinent Representation

5. A Critical Appraisal of Conventional Economic Approaches to Sustainability Problems

6. Five Theoretical Pillars of Musiasem for a New Quantitative Analysis of Sustainability

7. Building Blocks of the Musiasem Approach

8. Looking for "Beyond GDP Indicators": Bio-Economic Pressure

9. An International Comparison of the Metabolic Pattern of Modern Societies at the Level of Economic Sectors

10. Other Applications of Musiasem

11. Poor Narratives and Granfalloons Hampering the Sustainability Debate: Can we Escape Soddy’s Prophecy?

12. What Went Wrong and Where Do We Go From Here?

More information

Routledge, 2014