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Comprehending ecological and economic sustainability: comparative analysis of stability principles in the biosphere and free market economy

Comprehending ecological and economic sustainability: comparative analysis of stability principles in the biosphere and free market economy

Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences 1195(Suppl. 1): E1-18

The global environmental imperative demands urgent actions on ecological stabilization, yet the global scale of such actions is persistently insufficient. This calls for investigating why the world economy appears to be so fearful of any potential environmental expenditure. Using the formalism of Lyapunov potential function it is shown that the stability principles for biomass in the ecosystem and for employment in economics are mathematically similar. The ecosystem has a stable and unstable stationary state with high (forest) and low (grasslands) biomass, respectively. In economics, there is a stable stationary state with high employment in mass production of conventional goods sold at low cost price, and an unstable stationary state with lower employment in production of novel products of technological progress sold at higher prices. An additional stable state is described for economics with very low employment in production of life essentials, such as energy and raw materials that are sold at greatly inflated prices. In this state the civilization pays 10% of global GDP for energy produced by a negligible minority of the working population (currently approximately 0.2%) and sold at prices exceeding the cost price by 40 times, a state when any extra expenditures of whatever nature appear intolerable. The reason lies in the fundamental shortcoming of economic theory, which allows for economic ownership over energy sources. This is shown to be equivalent to equating measurable variables of different dimensions (stores and fluxes), which leads to effective violation of the laws of energy and matter conservation in modern economics.

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Accession: 052269477

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PMID: 20586764

DOI: 10.1111/j.1749-6632.2009.05400.x

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