Physical processes of resource creation

Ernie Jowsey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)

Abstract

Economic theories of natural resource utilisation need a physical basis because production processes are irreversible, and this must be recognised in order to understand fully the consequences of economic activity. Examples of irreversibility are the combustion of fossil fuels, destruction of wilderness areas and dissipation of matter which is not recycled. In conventional theoretical economics, however, there is no constraint on ever-increasing production; in other words, no irreversibility concept. Economists tend to concentrate on social limitations to economic activity, such as market structures, market failures and innovation. Natural scientists, however, see economies as being constrained by physical factors such as energy availability. A combination of both viewpoints is likely to be closer to reality, with physical constraints on economic growth being important in the long run, but eliciting a social response in the form of greater commitment to research and development and technical change. Understanding of the inter-relationship between economists and natural scientists is particularly important in consideration of the utilisation of natural resources, because physical constraints on resource availability will inevitably impinge upon economic activity at some stage. Hence, it is necessary to establish the perspective of natural scientists especially concerning the understanding that the universe is comprised of energy and matter which are governed by the four fundamental forces: gravitational force, electromagnetic force, and strong and weak nuclear forces.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)121-132
JournalInternational Journal of Sustainable Development & World Ecology
Volume14
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2007

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