InterJournal Complex Systems, 213
Status: Submitted
Manuscript Number: [213]
Submission Date: 981116
Revised On: 990214
Socioeconomic Systems as Nested Dissipative Adaptive Systems (Holarchies) and their Dynamic Energy Budget: a theoretical approach
Author(s): Mario Giampietro ,Kozo Mayumi ,Gianni Pastore

Subject(s): CX.43, CX.44

Category: Brief Article


When preparing these two manuscripts for NECSI we compressed a lot of information taken by several papers already published and because of that, probably we did not pay the due attention to explain to the reader the basic ideas used in our approach. When reading the comments of the reviewer we realized that this was really a serious fault on our side. So that we accept the observation that the papers in their previous form were not acceptable. On the other hand, we believe that the extremely negative comments of the reviewer have been generated by a big misunderstanding about the use of the model, which can be easily eliminated with. That is, simply by explaining the basic ideas that led to this approach of analysis and by re-arranging the text (as we did in the revised version). The basic problem addressed by our approach: when you try to describe nested dissipative systems hierarchically organized (operating on several space-time scales) you cannot use a unique set of scale-dependent encodings that can catch all the relevant behaviours. In this case, you must use non-equivalent (and therefore unreducible) descriptions of its behaviour over different scales (= adopting different sets of encodings of qualities as perceived on different space-time scales). In our view this is the main reason for the general impass experienced by "reductionistic" analyses trying to map (1:1) complex system. Therefore, our approach of analysis is based on the parallel use of different non-equivalent descriptions of the same system (based on different set of encodings or variables) which then are linked by equations of congruence of matter, energy, money, human time flows across hierarchical level. Coming to the analysis presented here, we define the same quantity (ET/C) by using different encodings of relevant qualities of socioeconomic systems: ET/C (as determined by parameters reflecting socioeconomic characteristics at the hierarchical level of the whole society - such as demographic structure, income, retirement age, work load, etc. ) [e.g. ET/C = (ABM x MF) x (Exo/Endo) x (THT/C)]; [data available from national statistics] this value must be close (leaving the system in the basin of attraction) to: ET/C (as determined by parameters reflecting the technology adopted in different economic sectors - such as technical coefficients or input/output of different economic activities) [e.g. ET/C = (ET/CI) x (CI/C)]. In this case, the value of ET/CI and CI/C can be expressed as the sum of the values of the corresponding parameters describing the performance of individual productive sectors (technical coefficients of agriculture, energy sector, mining, etc. [data available from input/output tables of national economies] this value must be close (leaving the system in the basin of attraction) to: ET/C (as resulting by the characteristics of the existing set of household types - existing range of life-styles - and the distribution of individual households over such a set). [e.g. ET/C = Si ETi / Si Ci ; where ETi is the metabolism of the household type i, and Ci is the amount of working time that the household i invests in the productive sectors ] ; [data are available through studies on household metabolism and curve of distributions of population of households] Put it in another way, we can express an emergent property of the whole [e.g. ET or C] in different ways as resulting from different combinations of lower level parameters (definable and assessed at different hierarchical levels of the society). The result of this operation can appear trivial (ET = ET) but at each formulation of this identity we can establish a link between different characteristics of the society as seen and assessed at different hierarchical levels (= the model defines in a redundant way the same flows but using each time a different combination of non equivalent variables) . REVISION OF THE TEXT In this revised version we (hopefully(: - explain the novelty of the approach (= we are not proposing a magic model, but simply a method to generate family of models to del with nested adaptive dissipative systems); - propose 4 hypotheses about the behaviour of socio-economic systems in their path of development (paper one) - check these hypothese by using empirical data (paper two). Again the validation of theoretical hypothese is, in our view, quite impressive. At this point there is something that we cannot share with the review: the statement that this paper does not present any relevant theoretical discussion about the behaviour of socio-economic system. It suffices to say that the biophysical indicator of development BEP proposed in paper 1 is defined as a ratio between investments in "adaptability" versus "efficiency" for dissipative adaptive holarchies. This indicators which can read the perfromance of socio-economic system in parallel on three hierarchical levels (over three different space-time scale) correlates better than GNP over 24 indicators of development used by the World Bank, on a sample of107 countries of the world comprising more than 90% of world population. To the best of our knowledge no other biophysical indicator is around that can be used to assess economic development at different scales (including the household level) with the same result. This makes possible to discuss of trade-offs between economic development and ecological impact since BEP is a mesure of intensity of biophysical throughputs in the environment.

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