So, here's my response to his letter in Portuguese. The original article by Mr. Cialdini follows. I´ve included a link to an interview with Herman Daly in Portuguese also.
I'll work on translating the material here soon.
First, here's a link to a network of community banks practicing solidarity economics in Brazil- http://www.bancopalmas.org.br/oktiva.net/1235/nota/54173
The Nature of Economics is the Economics of Nature
Scarce goods, alternative goals, choice, allocation, and redistribution are what compose the nature of economic science. The origin and nature of the concept of economics is connected to the study of the processes of production and the exchange of products. In its Greek origins, the term means “the rules of the home.” In 1932, the economist Lionel Robbins concerned himself with the ways in which human beings satisfy their unlimited needs with scarce resources. To simplify the neoclassical school, he defined the economic theory of production according to two factors: Capital, represented by “K”, and Work, represented by “L.” The Cobb-Douglas production function (Q=f(K,L)), which combines the names of its creators, (was later formulated with these variables and) is the one most utilized in terms of theory.
The discussion about the economics of nature owes itself significantly to the economist Nicholas Georgescu-Roegen, the first non-ecologist to call attention to the debate about the ecological crisis of development. He showed that the economic system was not in perpetual motion, or that it somehow feeds itself in a circular system. On the contrary, it is a system which transforms natural resources into refuse or waste which cannot be reused. The economic system cannot contradict the laws of physics. The second law of thermodynamics, the entropy law, establishes that the degree of disorder of an isolated system tends to increase with time, impeding any inclination towards perpetual motion. In the same way, the economic system cannot move forever without inputting resources and outputting waste products. The productive processes include different kinds of agents, such as (constructive capital, work, and flows of natural resources, products, and waste). To develop a new representation of the process, Georgescu-Roegen emphasized that it is linear and open.
The entropy law is the one most applicable to economics of all the physical laws and brought to the debate the question of the relationship between efficiency and the structure of production processes.
There is a basic qualitative difference between the factors of production that was ignored by the neoclassical system until Georgescu-Roegen's work. The concept of production should be labeled “transformation;” this would provide adequate recognition of the phenomenon of (flow). In the context of entropy, every process of transformation, every act by a human or an organism can only result in a deficit for the whole system. Thus, when we produce a sheet of copper from the mineral we diminish the entropy of the mineral, but only at the cost of a greater increase of entropy in the universe (through the resulting heat and waste).
One day humanity will have to think about stabilizing its economic activities, since there will not be any way to avoid the (overall) dissipation of the materials used in industrial processes, and since nature is(, in fact,) the limit of economics.
Mr. Cialdini's opinion piece of May 27th was stimulating to read. His conclusion that ecological realities of physical entropy will require humanity to “think about stabilizing its economic activities” is important. However, environmental problems are extremely urgent, and the accomplishments of some of humanity already act as lighthouses towards the ecological path. Ceara itself already has technologies in various areas including energy and agriculture, and holds conferences which promote sustainability.
Georgescu-Roegen was an important thinker, but others have followed in his footsteps. It was others, significantly Herman Daly, who brought ecological economics to the next level. Besides his academic work, Daly advised in the establishment of the environmental department at the World Bank and founded the International Society of Ecological Economics, which has had a branch in Brazil for years. He is the co-author of a text for bachelors' programs, which includes the ecologically reformulated Cobb-Douglas equation (Q=f(N, K, L; r)). (He includes simple entertaining insights such as that conventional ideas make it look as if cooks in kitchens are the ones transformed into the food dishes, and not the ingredients mixed and prepared so painstakingly.) Besides his work, there is a growing group of academics, notably Ms. Elinor Ostrom, who shared the Nobel Rijksbank prize in 2009 for her exceptional fieldwork and observations which indicate the consistent ability of communities to care for their natural resources.
The work of this academic group reflects scientific studies which are already connected to political processes. The IPCC reports followed the negotiations at the 1992 Rio Earth Summit UNCED Conference, for example, and the WWF Living Planet Report comes from a well-informed NGO participant at all these proceedings before and since the Rio + 20 Conference of 2012. (The reports show that the planet already faces disastrous consequences as the result of current prevailing technologies.)
The efforts to advance sustainability by various people in economic entities is shown by the work of associations like IFOAM, the leading international organization of organic agriculture, and the IREA, the International Renewable Energy Agency. A specific example is that of the multinational Interface Carpets, Inc. Ray Anderson, the CEO, was shown a client's letter in 1994 which asked about the company's environmental policies. Since then, the company has become an environmental leader, i.e. reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 82% and increasing sales by 66% among other accomplishments. They also offer consulting services in the field. Greenpeace is another which developed a refrigeration technology that is ozone safe, and which they make available without a fee. More humble and community-based efforts also contribute significantly, such as agroecological co-operatives.
Thus, while the IPCC and WWF reports show an environmental crisis so serious that many more academics and enterprises still need to change for the better, the path to put humanity aright is already well lit. Why have so many not yet gotten on it?
Here´s the original article in Portuguese:
A natureza da economia e a economia da natureza
"Um dia a humanidade terá que pensar em estabilizar as atividades econômicas"
notícia 1 comentários
HÁ 30 ANOS Saúde e amparo ao menor carente (0) HÁ 60 ANOS Fábrica de cerveja em Belem do Pará (0) HÁ 80 ANOS Uma Conferencia para... matar Saudades (0)
Meios escassos, fins alternativos, escolha, alocação, redistribuição compõem a natureza da ciência econômica. A origem e natureza do conceito de economia estão ligadas ao estudo dos processos de produção e troca de produtos. Na origem grega, o termo significa “regras da casa”. Em 1932, o economista Lionel Robins preocupara-se sobre a forma como os seres humanos satisfazem as necessidades ilimitadas, com recursos escassos. Para simplificar a escola neoclássica, definiu a teoria econômica da produção em dois fatores: o Capital, representado por K, e o trabalho, representado por L. A função de produção de Cobb-Douglas, que combina os apelidos dos seus criadores, é a mais utilizada em termos teóricos.
A discussão sobre a economia da natureza deve-se bastante ao economista Nicholas Georgescu-Roegen; o primeiro não ecologista que chamou atenção para o debate sobre a crise ecológica do desenvolvimento. Ele mostrou que o sistema econômico não era um movimento perpétuo, que alimenta a si mesmo de forma circular. Ao contrário, é um sistema que transforma recursos naturais em rejeitos ou refugos, que não podem mais ser utilizados. O sistema econômico não pode contrariar as leis da física. A segunda lei da termodinâmica, a lei da entropia estabelece que o grau de degeneração de um sistema isolado tende a aumentar com o tempo, impedindo a existência destes movimentos perpétuos. Da mesma forma, o sistema econômico não pode se mover para sempre sem entrada de recursos e saída de resíduos. Os processos produtivos possuem diferentes agentes, como capital construído, trabalho e fluxos de recursos naturais, produtos e resíduos. Ao desenvolver uma nova representação do processo, o autor destacou que ele é linear e aberto.
A Lei da Entropia é a mais econômica de todas as leis físicas e trouxe ao debate a relação entre a eficiência e a estrutura do processo produtivo. Há uma diferença qualitativa básica entre os fatores de produção, que foi ignorada pela abordagem neoclássica, até a formulação de Georgescu-Roegen. O conceito de produção deveria ser denominado transformação; isso daria a dimensão adequada do fenômeno de fluxo. No contexto da entropia, cada processo de transformação, cada ação do homem ou de um organismo só pode resultar num déficit para o sistema total. Assim, quando produzimos uma chapa de cobre a partir de um minério de cobre, diminuímos a entropia do minério, mas somente à custa de um maior acréscimo de entropia no universo.
Um dia a humanidade terá que pensar em estabilizar as atividades econômicas, pois não haverá como evitar a dissipação dos materiais utilizados nos processos industriais, pois a natureza é o limite da economia.
Alexandre Sobreira Cialdini
Economista e secretário de Finanças do Tribunal de Justiça do Ceará
An interview with Herman Daly in Portuguese (Hey, I´m living in Brazil. If you want a link in English, let me know):