Entropy & Env Economics

Topics: Entropy, Thermodynamics, Ecological economics Pages: 4 (1156 words) Published: March 10, 2011
Critical Review of “The new entropy law and the economic process” by Raine, A., Foster, J., and Potts, J.

A. Introduction
Raine et. al. (2006) explored whether the traditional notion of entropy increase suitably represents the second law of thermodynamics. They recognised that entropy laws are not static and sought to apply Schneider and Kay’s (1994) reformulated second law of thermodynamics to resolve current issues on resource limitations for open systems. Raine, et. al. perceive economic systems to be open and claimed that economic systems have unlimited growth potential by utilising higher energy throughput in increasingly complex structures. They attribute this to economic systems being highly evolved biological systems with the ability to create knowledge that drives innovation. Evolution of economic systems is thus accelerated with higher utilisation of energy. Therefore, they argue that economic systems undergo structural changes that encourage higher energy utilization and that this is inline with the reformulated second law of thermodynamics.

B. Points of agreement
I agree with Raine, et. al. that the self-organisation of economic systems is distinct from those in biological domains. Nonetheless, all domains strive towards equilibrium and will attempt to maximise throughout of free energy. Similarly, I am glad that Raine, et. al. understands that “living systems will maximise energy flux but minimize the amount of specific dissipation as heat.” While evaluating the process of transpiration of plant, Addiscott (2009) concluded that “linear non-equilibrium, entropy minimizing system is the appropriate analogues for an ecosystem.” The plant will minimise water loss, thus maintaining low entropy. Evolution has placed the stomata on the underside of the leaves away from the sun. We have much to learn from nature’s way. Raine, et. al.’s (2006, p.358) argument that evolution favour more complex structures “because they are more effective at...

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Krysiak, F.C., “Entropy, limits to growth, and the prospects for weak sustainability”, Ecological Economics, 58:182– 191, 2006
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Raine, A., Foster, J., and Potts, J., “The new entropy law and the economic process”, Ecological Complexity, 3:354-360, 2006
Schneider, E.D
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