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Selected Publication:

Fischer-Kowalski, M; Haberl, H.
(1998): Sustainable development: socio-economic metabolism and colonization of nature
INT SOC SCI J. 1998; 50(4): 573-+. FullText FullText_BOKU

In this article the notions of xxxsocietal metabolismxxx and xxxcolonization of naturexxx are used to describe the inter-relations between societies and their natural environment in order to operationalize the concept of xxxsustainable developmentxxx. Metabolism refers to the material and energetic input-output processes of societies, i.e, the extraction of natural resources, their processing, storage within society, and finally their release as wastes and emissions. xxxColonization of naturexxx refers to activities which deliberately alter natural systems and keep them in a societally desired state. We empirically analyse the metabolism of five industrial countries. Their per capita material consumption is similar enough to support the notion of a xxxcharacteristic metabolic profilexxx of industrial society, which can be viewed in a historical perspective against the metabolism of hunter-and-gatherer and agrarian societies, revealing an impressive increase. We then analyse the inter-relations between a societyxxxs energetic metabolism and the need as well as the limitations of its colonization strategies. For example, we discuss how the biomass productivity of plants limits the energy flow of agrarian societies and globally may limit population growth. Finally, we discuss how industrial societies might perceive their sustainability problems and respond to them.
Authors BOKU Wien:
Fischer-Kowalski Marina
Haberl Helmut

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