Societal and Energy Metabolism as a Tool for Transformation: Understanding the Challenges of Energy-Society Relations
Levels of complexity achieved by societies today have only been possible because of the abundance and readily usable primary energy forms whose exploitation provides huge surpluses of energy flows. However, the bonanza of the past is over and we are facing a global crisis with many challenges to overcome. Socio-economic systems are ever increasingly constrained by biophysical limits, with peaking fossil reserves, decreasing energetic returns and climate change impacts. Therefore the analysis of such complex systems require methodologies capable of analyzing multiple hierarchical levels and operating across multiple scales. The presentation will open with a critique to using unidimensional indicators such as that of the energy intensity and proposes the use of alternative approaches such as the Multi-scale Integrated Analysis of Societal and Ecosystem Metabolism (MuSIASEM) as a tool that can be used for diagnostic and simulation purposes for an informed decision making process. This seminar will present insights on socio-economic transitions experienced in Europe (EU-15) over a 15 year time period on past and current trends looking into issues of energy from where, in which form, for which socio-economic sector and for what kind of development? Thereafter, to complete the bigger picture, it will ask questions on energy for whom and at whose cost required for discussions on transformation and justice.