5.2 Throughput

In the present system, economic growth is the given priority for all nations. All demand a growing GDP and a steadily increasing throughput: the flow of matter and energy from the environment, through the economic subsystem (production and consumption) and back to the environment in the form of waste. This is called the “value-adding chain”.

The question is: “how big is the economy’s metabolic flow relative to the natural cycles that regenerate the economy’s resource depletion and absorb its waste emissions? What is the optimum scale relative to the ecosystem?

When the throughput passes the optimum, the growth becomes uneconomic, and more ills are accumulated than wealth. Uneconomic growth makes us poorer, not richer. Uneconomic growth is not necessary to fight poverty. On the contrary, it makes it harder to fight poverty (Jackson , p.xi).

Value-adding-chain big

The value-adding chain: An occurence of e.g. a mineral becomes a resource when adequate competence, insight, technology and capital to exploit the mineral is present. In the value-adding chain, the resource goes through several processes before it ends up as a product for sale. During these processes, there will often be emissions harmful to the environment, and production of waste. Eventually the product will become waste or garbage. We need to reduce the emissions and waste production and rather reuse or recycle. Graphic: Thomas Andersen, UIA

 

See video: The Circular Economy Strategy from the EU

 

Next

Home
Chapter 4 4 Ecosystems
Chapter 5 5. Green economy
5.1 Green economy games
5.2 Throughput
5.3 The eco economy
5.4 Towards a green economy
Chapter 6 6. Greener future?

 

 

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