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Long term changes in social metabolism and land use in Czechoslovakia, 1830-2000: An energy transition under changing political regimes

  • Kuskova, Petra
  • Gingrich, Simone
  • Krausmann, Fridolin
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    Industrialisation goes along with sweeping changes in society's interrelations with its environment. The transition from an agrarian to an industrial society leads to fundamentally new patterns in social metabolism, a process which has been described as socio-metabolic transition. This paper investigates this transition for the case of the current Czech and Slovak Republics and presents a dataset on the development of key variables related to social metabolism during the last 170Â years. The dataset includes time series data on the extraction of biomass and fossil fuels, energy consumption and land use. Combining data on Bohemia and Moravia (1830-1915) with data on Czechoslovakia (1918-1992) and the Czech and Slovak Republics (1993-2002), the study covers a period of consecutive political and institutional changes. It includes the feudal regime of the late period of the Habsburg Empire and its disintegration with WWI, the short period of the Czechoslovak Republic in the interwar period, the era of a planned economy under a communist regime, the collapse of this regime and the subsequent turn towards a market economy and European integration in the 1990s. The period was characterized by economic and physical growth. It saw a doubling of population and a growth in GDP by a factor 20. Domestic energy consumption (DEC) increased by a factor 10 and the share of biomass in DEC declined from more than 98% to less than 20%. All in all the observed changes closely resemble the characteristic path of the socio-metabolic transition as observed in other Western European economies. Major political and economic changes did not result in fundamental alterations of the socio-metabolic transition until the mid-20th century. The communist era (1945-1989) was characterized by rapid physical growth and changes in the energy and land use system very similar to those of other Western European economies in the same period, however leading to DEC values substantially higher than those of other European countries at around 300Â GJ/cap in the mid-1980s. The disturbances caused by the Velvet Revolution resulted in short term turbulences in social metabolism and structural adaptations, and around the year 2000, the Czech and Slovak Republics show biophysical features very similar to those of other Western European countries.

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    Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Ecological Economics.

    Volume (Year): 68 (2008)
    Issue (Month): 1-2 (December)
    Pages: 394-407

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    Handle: RePEc:eee:ecolec:v:68:y:2008:i:1-2:p:394-407
    Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/ecolecon

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    1. Krausmann, Fridolin & Schandl, Heinz & Sieferle, Rolf Peter, 2008. "Socio-ecological regime transitions in Austria and the United Kingdom," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 65(1), pages 187-201, March.
    2. Behrens, Arno & Giljum, Stefan & Kovanda, Jan & Niza, Samuel, 2007. "The material basis of the global economy: Worldwide patterns of natural resource extraction and their implications for sustainable resource use policies," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 64(2), pages 444-453, December.
    3. Hornborg, Alf, 2006. "Footprints in the cotton fields: The Industrial Revolution as time-space appropriation and environmental load displacement," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 59(1), pages 74-81, August.
    4. Cusso, Xavier & Garrabou, Ramon & Tello, Enric, 2006. "Social metabolism in an agrarian region of Catalonia (Spain) in 1860-1870: Flows, energy balance and land use," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 58(1), pages 49-65, June.
    5. Weisz, Helga & Krausmann, Fridolin & Amann, Christof & Eisenmenger, Nina & Erb, Karl-Heinz & Hubacek, Klaus & Fischer-Kowalski, Marina, 2006. "The physical economy of the European Union: Cross-country comparison and determinants of material consumption," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 58(4), pages 676-698, July.
    6. Lindmark, Magnus, 2002. "An EKC-pattern in historical perspective: carbon dioxide emissions, technology, fuel prices and growth in Sweden 1870-1997," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 42(1-2), pages 333-347, August.
    7. Scasny, Milan & Kovanda, Jan & Hak, Tomas, 2003. "Material flow accounts, balances and derived indicators for the Czech Republic during the 1990s: results and recommendations for methodological improvements," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 45(1), pages 41-57, April.
    8. Bringezu, Stefan & Schutz, Helmut & Steger, Soren & Baudisch, Jan, 2004. "International comparison of resource use and its relation to economic growth: The development of total material requirement, direct material inputs and hidden flows and the structure of TMR," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 51(1-2), pages 97-124, November.
    9. Krausmann, Fridolin & Haberl, Helmut, 2002. "The process of industrialization from the perspective of energetic metabolism: Socioeconomic energy flows in Austria 1830-1995," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 41(2), pages 177-201, May.
    10. Schandl, Heinz & Schulz, Niels, 2002. "Changes in the United Kingdom's natural relations in terms of society's metabolism and land-use from 1850 to the present day," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 41(2), pages 203-221, May.
    11. Krausmann, Fridolin & Erb, Karl-Heinz & Gingrich, Simone & Lauk, Christian & Haberl, Helmut, 2008. "Global patterns of socioeconomic biomass flows in the year 2000: A comprehensive assessment of supply, consumption and constraints," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 65(3), pages 471-487, April.
    12. Martinez-Alier, Joan & Schandl, Heinz, 2002. "Special Section: European Environmental History and Ecological Economics," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 41(2), pages 175-176, May.
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