Metabolism of Human Society

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By Mario Giampietro et al. :

"The “metabolism of human society” is a notion used to characterize the processes of energy and material transformation in a society necessary for its continued existence. This notion became a scientific subject starting the mid-19th century because of the work of authors such as Liebig, Boussingault, Moleschott, Jevons, Podolinski, Arrhenius, Ostwald, Lotka, White, and Cottrell (for an overview, see Martinez-Alier, 1987). However, it was in the 1970s (triggered by the oil crisis) that the study of energy and material metabolism of human society became a fashionable scientific exercise. In the 1970s, energy and material metabolism of human society was widely applied to farming systems, economic systems, and in general to describe the interaction between socioeconomic systems and their environment (e.g., Georgescu-Roegen, 1971; Odum, 1971, 1983; Rappaport, 1971; Leach, 1976; Gilliland, 1978; Slesser, 1978; Pimentel and Pimentel, 1979; Morowitz, 1979; Costanza 1980; Herendeen, 1981; Hall et al, 1986; Smil, 1987; Ayres and Simonis, 1994; Fischer-Kowalski, 1998)." (