Skip to main content
main-content

Über dieses Buch

This book is the work of three specialists from the field of Economics (B.F), Business (S.S.) and the Natural Sciences (W.S.). While each chapter concentrates more or less on one or other of these areas, with varying degrees of complexity, it is hoped that the readers whatever their background will fmd something of value in each section, in particular those outside their own disciplines. The authors believe that such cross fertilization of ideas will become increasingly needed in the coming development of a sustainable growth society and it is therefore their hope that this book, as a first example of its kind, will thereby contribute in an interdisciplinary way to the general understanding of the issues of sustainable growth. The authors divided their main contributions to the book as follows: Bruno Fritsch Chapters 1,2,3,4,5 and 8 Stephan Schmidheiny Chapter 7 Walter Seifritz Chapters 2, 3, 4 and 6 They would like to thank in particular Lloyd Timberlake for his editorial advice and his assistance on chapter 7. Special thanks are due to Irena Kusar for preparing the original figures and diagrams and to the Paul Scherrer Institute for permission to use the illustration, printing and copying facilities during preparation of the manuscript. They would also like to thank Richard Stratton for assembling, typing and correcting the text, editing and final layout and for his helpful advice and contributions to organising the presentation of the material.

Inhaltsverzeichnis

Frontmatter

1. Introduction

Abstract
The objective of this book is to build a bridge between the physical and the social sciences. The demand for such a bridge has never been greater than today. Yet our attempt to combine the scientifically physical with societal phenomena gives rise to what are thought to be insurmountable problems.
Bruno Fritsch, Stephan Schmidheiny, Walter Seifritz

2. Historical Developments

Abstract
Since 1967, the population of the world has expanded by 2 billion people; in 55 wars and civil wars, 9.6 million people lost their lives. During the same period, the gross world product has doubled, the world-wide level of debt has increased more than tenfold. The global consumption of energy has increased by a factor of 2.5. In the past 25 years, we have had two oil crises, about three dozen coups d’état, and at least three serious nuclear reactor accidents (Windscale 1958, Three-Mile-Island, 1979, and Chernobyl, 1986). In 1967, the United Nations had 122 member states; since then, their number has increased by 56, giving a total of 179 in 1992.
Bruno Fritsch, Stephan Schmidheiny, Walter Seifritz

3. Evolution and Energy

Abstract
Intuition teaches us that living things are very different from inorganic matter. In contrast to the teachings of physics that in closed physical systems, containing only inorganic matter, entropy increases steadily, approaching finally a “heat death”, in nature we observe that living things behave very differently from non-living systems. What we perceive, if only subconsciously, is that the structure of living things when compared to inorganic matter is much more complex and richer in organisation and information.
Bruno Fritsch, Stephan Schmidheiny, Walter Seifritz

4. Economic Growth and Ecological Sustainability

Abstract
In traditional neoclassical growth theory capital K and labour L are combined to produce an output Y which can be used for consumption C and labour investment I. Capital and labour can be substituted for each other. The relationship between the input combination of capital and labour to the output achieved (or income) represents the production function:
$$ {\rm{Y = }}{{\rm{K}}^n}{{\rm{L}}^m}{\rm{F(t); m + n = 1}}$$
(4.1)
The technical progress F(t) is assumed to be exogenous.
Bruno Fritsch, Stephan Schmidheiny, Walter Seifritz

5. The Special Role of Electricity

Abstract
Already Lenin realised that electricity constitutes a special form of energy apt to call forth structural changes that may have repercussions on societies. The following quotation is said to be by him “Soviet Power plus Electricity = Communism”. Today we might reformulate this visionary statement “Democracy plus Electricity = Human Society”. Lenin could not anticipate the crucial importance of electricity in the fields of application such as electronics, computers and modern laser technology. His far-sightedness is all the more remarkable.
Bruno Fritsch, Stephan Schmidheiny, Walter Seifritz

6. Some Technical Steps Towards Sustainability

Abstract
As has already been mentioned in the first two chapters, the filling of the temperature sink is fortunately not a global problem even when very large quantities of anthropogenic energy are being produced. The Earth’s radiation balance can be written as
$$ \left( {1 - A} \right){S_0}/4 = \varepsilon \sigma T_E^4 $$
(6.1)
where the left hand side is the solar influx in the form of visible light with S o = 1.372 kW/m2 = solar constant and A = 0.3 = albedo of the Earth.
Bruno Fritsch, Stephan Schmidheiny, Walter Seifritz

7. Ecoefficiency and the Entrepreneurial Factor

Abstract
The preceding chapters strive to show that sustainable growth is possible, both from the points of view of the physical and natural sciences, and from the point of view of economics.
Bruno Fritsch, Stephan Schmidheiny, Walter Seifritz

8. Summary and Conclusions

Abstract
In principle, the technology available today is sufficient for a satisfactory solution of both the energy and the environmental problems. The technological aspect of the environmental issue refers to the necessity of ensuring closed material cycling. This, in turn, means that energy must be available and the tapping of energy sources, the use of which will not open up any new material cycles. An energy system based on fossil energy carriers, however, does contribute to opening material cycles: for physical reasons, it results in dissipations (CO2) which, with the technological processes available today, cannot yet be reversed. In fact, it is doubtful whether it will ever be possible to recover the CO2 emissions released into the atmosphere, for example the problems of afforestation have-already been discussed. Thus, given the present structure of our energy system based on fossil fuels, the two requirements of “more energy consumption” and “less environmental burden” appear to be completely incompatible.
Bruno Fritsch, Stephan Schmidheiny, Walter Seifritz

Backmatter

Weitere Informationen