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Socioecological Transitions and Global Change
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Socioecological Transitions and Global Change

Trajectories of Social Metabolism and Land Use

9781847203403 Edward Elgar Publishing
Edited by Marina Fischer-Kowalski, University for Natural Resources and Life Sciences and Helmut Haberl, Institute of Social Ecology, Klagenfurt University, Vienna, Austria
Publication Date: 2007 ISBN: 978 1 84720 340 3 Extent: 288 pp
This significant new book analyses fundamental changes in society-nature interaction: the socioeconomic use of materials, energy and land. The volume presents a number of case studies addressing transitions from an agrarian to an industrial socioecological regime, analysed within the materials and energy flow accounting (MEFA) framework. It is argued that by concentrating on the biophysical dimensions of change in the course of industrialization, social development issues can be explicitly linked to changes in the natural environment.

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This significant new book analyses fundamental changes in society-nature interaction: the socioeconomic use of materials, energy and land. The volume presents a number of case studies addressing transitions from an agrarian to an industrial socioecological regime, analysed within the materials and energy flow accounting (MEFA) framework. It is argued that by concentrating on the biophysical dimensions of change in the course of industrialization, social development issues can be explicitly linked to changes in the natural environment.

From the historical transition in Europe, to current transitions in developing countries, the book offers a broad and comprehensive analysis of transition processes across scales, from local to national. The comparison of historical and current assessments allows a theory of the underlying patterns of the agrarian-industrial transition to emerge. On this basis, future trends and possible pathways towards (or indeed further departures from) sustainability are discussed.

Empirical in character and cautious in its assumptions, this insightful book provides rich and in-depth material for further studies in socioecological research. It will be essential reading for students and researchers of ecological economics, industrial ecology, human ecology, environmental sociology, environmental history, geography as well as land, energy and development studies.
Critical Acclaim
‘Unlike so many books that analyze material and energy flows in society and the developments therein, this is one of the few that link such information to developments in social organization and that discusses how limits in one sphere influence the other and in reverse.’
– Arnold Tukker, Journal of Industrial Ecology

‘This book is a neat summary of the main research developments achieved by the editors and their colleagues at the Institute of Social Ecology at Klagenfurt University in Vienna, and represents an interesting and important landmark in the social metabolism approach to sustainable development. The book is arranged over eight chapters, each of which can stand alone as an interesting paper with a specific focus, though several chapters are complimentary. . . The various chapters are largely written in an interesting and engaging style and the material covered is well presented, so that the largely social science content should be easily assimilated by a wide general readership. . . The book is well laid out. . . Any ecologists interested in flows of energy and materials within changing agrarian and industrial landscapes would be well served by reading this approachable text.’
– Robert A. Francis, Landscape Ecology

‘In an important contribution to sustainability science, Fischer-Kowalski and Haberl extend the frontiers of contemporary socio-ecological research to articulate a theory of material, energy and land-use transitions across multiple scales based on detailed empirical studies in Europe and Asia. The insights it presents on agrarian-industrial transitions are crucial to understand the potential impact of emerging nations like India and China on global change.’
– Aromar Revi, India China Institute, The New School University, US

‘This volume represents the culmination of several years of empirical research and refinement of the social metabolism approach. That approach is one of the most exciting and illuminating innovations in the fields of human ecology, industrial ecology, and environmental history. Here the team from Vienna’s Institute of Social Ecology shows masterfully how the insights of social metabolism shed light on transitions to high-energy society in Austria, in Britain, and in the world at large.’
– J.R. McNeill, Georgetown University, US
Contributors
Contributors: N. Eisenmenger, K.-H. Erb, M. Fischer-Kowalski, C.M. Grünbühel, H. Haberl, F. Krausmann, J. Ramos Martin, H. Schandl, S.J. Singh
Contents
Contents:

Foreword
Joan Martinez-Alier

1. Conceptualizing, Observing and Comparing Socioecological Transitions
Marina Fischer-Kowalski and Helmut Haberl

2. Land-use Change and Socioeconomic Metabolism: A Macro View of Austria 1830–2000
Fridolin Krausmann and Helmut Haberl

3. The Fossil-Fuel-Powered Carbon Sink: Carbon Flows and Austria’s Energetic Metabolism in a Long-term Perspective
Karl-Heinz Erb, Helmut Haberl and Fridolin Krausmann

4. The Great Transformation: A Socio-metabolic Reading of the Industrialization of the United Kingdom
Heinz Schandl and Fridolin Krausmann

5. The Local Base of the Historical Agrarian – Industrial Transition and the Interaction between Scales
Helmut Haberl and Fridolin Krausmann

6. The Local Base of Transitions in Developing Countries
Clemens M. Grünbühel, Simron J. Singh and Marina Fischer-Kowalski

7. Transition in a Contemporary Context: Patterns of Development in a Globalizing World
Nina Eisenmenger, Jesus Ramos Martin and Heinz Schandl

8. Conclusions: Likely and Unlikely Pasts, Possible and Impossible Futures
Marina Fischer-Kowalski, Helmut Haberl and Fridolin Krausmann

Index

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eISBN: 978 1 84720 943 6
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