Social metabolism analysis using emergy

Enrique Ortega, Miguel Juan Bacic



After studying ecosystems and biosphere function for decades, Howard T. Odum sketched a methodology for calculating the value of the biophysical resources of nature and also the products of human activity. The methodology of “emergy” or “solar energy previously added” measures the biophysical work embedded in processes that use geological and biological resources and also human labor. According to Odum, the economic value (price) and the biophysical value (work added) generally do not coincide, as the market ignores or does not consider all factors of production. This paper explains the analysis of production-consumption systems using the emergy and discusses its potential utility in sustainable regional planning.


emergy; sustainability; collapse; resilience

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