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Empiricism in ecological economics: a perspective from complex systems theory

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  • Ramos-Martin, Jesus

Abstract

Economies are open complex adaptive systems far from thermodynamic equilibrium, and neo-classical environmental economics seems not to be the best way to describe the behaviour of such systems. Standard econometric analysis (i.e. time series) takes a deterministic and predictive approach, which encourages the search for predictive policy to ‘correct’ environmental problems. Rather, it seems that, because of the characteristics of economic systems, an ex-post analysis is more appropriate, which describes the emergence of such systems’ properties, and which sees policy as a social steering mechanism. With this background, some of the recent empirical work published in the field of ecological economics that follows the approach defended here is presented. Finally, the conclusion is reached that a predictive use of econometrics (i.e. time series analysis) in ecological economics should be limited to cases in which uncertainty decreases, which is not the normal situation when analysing the evolution of economic systems. However, that does not mean we should not use empirical analysis. On the contrary, this is to be encouraged, but from a structural and ex-post point of view.
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  • Ramos-Martin, Jesus, 2003. "Empiricism in ecological economics: a perspective from complex systems theory," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 46(3), pages 387-398, October.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:ecolec:v:46:y:2003:i:3:p:387-398
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    Cited by:

    1. Castro e Silva, Manuela & Teixeira, Aurora A.C., 2011. "A bibliometric account of the evolution of EE in the last two decades: Is ecological economics (becoming) a post-normal science?," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 70(5), pages 849-862, March.
    2. Lopolito, Antonio & Nardone, Gianluca & Prosperi, Maurizio & Sisto, Roberta & Stasi, Antonio, 2011. "Modeling the bio-refinery industry in rural areas: A participatory approach for policy options comparison," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 72(C), pages 18-27.
    3. Kozo Mayumi & Mario Giampietro & Jesus Ramos-Martin, 2011. "Reconsideration of Dimensions and Curve Fitting Practice in Economics Elaborating on Georgescu-Roegen’s Economic Methodology," UHE Working papers 2011_05, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, Departament d'Economia i Història Econòmica, Unitat d'Història Econòmica.
    4. Rammel, Christian & Stagl, Sigrid & Wilfing, Harald, 2007. "Managing complex adaptive systems -- A co-evolutionary perspective on natural resource management," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 63(1), pages 9-21, June.
    5. repec:eee:ecomod:v:223:y:2011:i:1:p:32-40 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. Browne, David & O'Regan, Bernadette & Moles, Richard, 2012. "Comparison of energy flow accounting, energy flow metabolism ratio analysis and ecological footprinting as tools for measuring urban sustainability: A case-study of an Irish city-region," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 83(C), pages 97-107.
    7. repec:spr:joevec:v:28:y:2018:i:3:d:10.1007_s00191-017-0514-8 is not listed on IDEAS
    8. Jiřina Jílková & Lenka Slavíková, 2009. "Ekonomie životního prostředí na rozcestí
      [Economics of the Environmental Protection on the Crossroad]
      ," Politická ekonomie, University of Economics, Prague, vol. 2009(5), pages 660-676.
    9. Kozo Mayumi & Mario Giampietro & Jesus Ramos-Martin, 2012. "Reconsideration of Dimensions and Curve Fitting Practice in View of Georgescu-Roegen’s Epistemology in Economics," Journal for Economic Forecasting, Institute for Economic Forecasting, vol. 0(4), pages 17-35, December.
    10. Salvador Pueyo, 2014. "Ecological Econophysics for Degrowth," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 6(6), pages 1-53, May.
    11. Evan D. Fraser, 2006. "Crop diversification and trade liberalization: Linking global trade and local management through a regional case study," Agriculture and Human Values, Springer;The Agriculture, Food, & Human Values Society (AFHVS), vol. 23(3), pages 271-281, October.
    12. Schiller, Frank, 2009. "Linking material and energy flow analyses and social theory," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 68(6), pages 1676-1686, April.
    13. Antonio Lopolito & Maurizio Prosperi & Roberta Sisto, 2009. "Socio-Economic Implications Of The Development Of A Bio-Refinery: An Analysis With Fuzzy Cognitive Maps," Quaderni DSEMS 19-2009, Dipartimento di Scienze Economiche, Matematiche e Statistiche, Universita' di Foggia.
    14. Bazilian, Morgan & Rogner, Holger & Howells, Mark & Hermann, Sebastian & Arent, Douglas & Gielen, Dolf & Steduto, Pasquale & Mueller, Alexander & Komor, Paul & Tol, Richard S.J. & Yumkella, Kandeh K., 2011. "Considering the energy, water and food nexus: Towards an integrated modelling approach," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 39(12), pages 7896-7906.

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