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Journal Article

Emergy Evaluation of the Biosphere and Natural Capital

Mark T. Brown and Sergio Ulgiati
Ambio
Vol. 28, No. 6 (Sep., 1999), pp. 486-493
Published by: Springer on behalf of Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/4314939
Page Count: 8
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Emergy Evaluation of the Biosphere and Natural Capital
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Abstract

The measure of value called emergy is used to evaluate the flows of energy and resources that sustain the biosphere including the economy of humans. A donor system of value based on solar emergy required to produce things is suggested as the only means of reversing the logic trap inherent in economic valuation, which suggests that value stems only from utilization by humans. The stocks of natural capital and flows of environmental resources are evaluated in emergy and related to Global World Product. Several emergy indices are introduced as a means of evaluating sustainability of economies and processes. The total emergy flux of the biosphere is composed of 32% renewable flows of sunlight, tidal momentum and deep heat (it was 68% in 1950), and 68% slowly-renewable and nonrenewable flows. An index of environmental loading on the biosphere is shown to have increased about 4 times since 1950, while an index of global sustainability suggests that overall, sustainability of the global economy has precipitously declined.

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Part of Sustainability