Systems and Thermodynamics Perspective on Technology in the Circular Economy

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* Article: A systems and thermodynamics perspective on technology in the circular economy. By Crelis F. Rammelt and Phillip Crisp. real-world economics review, issue no. 68, 2014

URL = http://www.paecon.net/PAEReview/issue68/RammeltCrisp68.pdf

Abstract

"Several discourses on environment and sustainability are characterised by a strong confidence in the potential of technology to address, if not solve, the ecological impacts resulting from physically expanding systems of production and consumption. The optimism is further encouraged by leading environmental engineering concepts, including cradle-to-cradle and industrial ecology, as well as broader frameworks, such as natural capitalism and the circular economy. This paper explores the viability of their promise from a biophysical perspective, which is based on insights from system dynamics and thermodynamics. Such an ecological reality check is generally ignored or underestimated in the literature on aforementioned concepts and frameworks. The paper ultimately reflects on what role society can realistically assign to technology for resolving its ecological concerns. While environmental engineering undoubtedly has something to offer, it will end up chasing its tail if the social and economic forces driving up production and consumption are not addressed."


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