I might even go so far as to argue that economics and ecology actually are or should be the same science. Somebody could write a paper on the economics of a beaver dam and/or a paper on the ecology of a motel chain.
jacob wrote:More importantly, due to the complexity of the fields and the limit to computational resources, researchers are often forced to simplify their computational/modelling field by treating things outside their field as boundary conditions.
ThisDinosaur wrote:I think I mostly try to avoid #3. I would be ecstatic with #2, and I would be stoically accepting with #4. In the context of this discussion, #3 looks to me like being a luddite doomer living in an isolated cabin while my former suburban neighbors are planning a SpaceX cruise to Venus while their robots do the housework.
Obviously, I might be biased since I would like to live in an isolated cabin, and you would have to pay me a large sum to get me to board a SpaceX cruise. OTOH, my ideal solution set would be some mix of the two roughly in alignment with eco-technic future and/or Chitty-Chitty-Bang-Bang.
The ERE book mentions Liebig's law; growth is not determined by total resources, but by the scarcest resource. It's why I keep pushing the algal bloom analogy. We are the algae, fossil fuels are the fertilizer. Our population/civilization is growing and will continue to do so until we run out of whatever is the scarcest resource. At which point our population will collapse and we will take much of the ecosystem with us.
Agree with slight qualification to "scarcest essential resource." One course I took considered the 3 main cycles to be Food, Water, and Energy. "Green Wizardry" suggests Energy, Materials, and Information.
BRUTE wrote:nothing can be produce without input of high quality matter and waste products, either. this is not unique to energy.
It is true that nothing can be produced without matter, but it is not exactly true that nothing can be produced without high quality matter. If information is defined as "data with intent" (nod to Greer), then it is a commonplace that low quality matter can be combined with energy and information to produce higher quality matter. In fact, adding value is pretty much the essential goal of production.
Living matter has been stuffed chock full of information through the process of evolution. So, for instance, humans can mine large deposits of phosphorus (essential resource) and it seems to be the case that some plants can dynamically accumulate phosphorus through application of energy at the root membrane level in soils where phosphorus is relatively scarce. IOW, micro-mining for phosphorus is an energy expensive mechanism some plants may have genetically (information level) developed.
Similarly, for example, a human operating for the moment in Decomposer (as opposed to Producer/Consumer) role in ecosystem, could pull an abandoned bicycle out of a dumpster, and break it up into small parts, and then bring the parts to the market to trade. Or, more obviously, a human could produce market valued goods from resources obtained for "free" from nature. For instance, I could gather pine cones and put them in woven hemp bags and sell them to lazy, affluent crafters.
Here's a very rough diagram of an energy flow chart for the making of campfire coffee that I started in attempt to complete assignment in "Green Wizardry." In one corner it starts with the sun, and then moves through a dune-scrub Northern Red Oak tree, then indicates my BF's application of human effort (in kilocalories) to produce fuel for the fire. From the other corner it starts with the slowly depreciating capital inputs of Percolator, Hibachi, and Ax to the production. The market cost energy estimates for the coffee and potable water are also included. Obviously, this diagram could be greatly extended, but hits a soft wall where I can only make estimate of energy input every time a material input is purchased for $$ on the open market.
If this was a diagram showing flow of materials (rather than pictures of material objects which aid comprehension of energy flow), it would also include the CO2 being released into the atmosphere as the wood is burned. The waste heat should be included in the energy diagram, but I haven't figured it out yet. The waste heat in the energy cycle from all human production, including camp fires, only amounts to approximately 1% of global warming, whereas the release of CO2 and methane in the material cycle of human production accounts for 99%, and the release of other materials like soot has cooling effect, but does not alter underlying chemistry (what is going on with molecules and elements that can be uniquely described and are in possession of unique qualities, unlike waste heat, which mostly just influences how jiggly all the unique materials at the party are dancing) Something like that.