Marina Fischer-Kowalski

Marina Fischer-Kowalski
University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences Vienna | boku · Institute for Social Ecology

PhD

About

199
Publications
122,589
Reads
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11,131
Citations
Citations since 2016
54 Research Items
6032 Citations
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Introduction
social metabolism, energy and society, sustainability transitions, socioecological system dynamics, global trade
Additional affiliations
January 2019 - present
University for Natural Resources and Life Sciences Vienna
Position
  • Professor Emeritus
Description
  • Institute for Social Ecology was shifted from the previous to the current university with all personnel and agenda
June 2003 - present
Alpen-Adria-Universität Klagenfurt
Position
  • Professor (Full)
Description
  • Teaching in the Master Program on Social and Human Ecology (Social Ecology, Theories of Social Change, Sociometabolic transitions, human-environment interactions) Teaching in the Doctoral program on Social Ecology
November 2002 - March 2003
Federal University of Rio de Janeiro
Position
  • Professor
Education
October 1970 - September 1972
Institut für Höhere Studien
Field of study
  • Sociology
October 1964 - December 1970
University of Vienna
Field of study
  • Sociology, Psychology and History of Art

Publications

Publications (199)
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Sedentary extensive small ruminant farming systems are highly important for the preservation of High Nature Value (HNV) farmland. Both the abandonment of grazing, and overgrazing, have led to environmental degradation in many Mediterranean regions. On the Greek island of Samothraki, decades of overgrazing by sheep and goats have caused severe degra...
Article
Full-text available
Five years after its establishment (2016), the LTER-Greece network outlines its vision, aims, objectives and its achievements through a series of case studies. The network consists of eight observatories, focusing on innovative research topics, aiming to be both cooperative and complementary , while currently being in the process of expanding. LTER...
Book
Full-text available
This book makes the case for why we should care about islands and their sustainability. Islands are hotspots of biocultural diversity and home to 600 million people that depend on one-sixth of the earth’s total area, including the surrounding oceans, for their subsistence. Today, they are at the frontlines of climate change and face an existential...
Article
Full-text available
This editorial introduces the Special Issue “Metabolism of Islands”. It makes a case why we should care about islands and their sustainability. Islands are hotspots of biocultural diversity, and home to 600 million people that depend on one-sixth of the earth’s total area, including the surrounding oceans, for their subsistence. Today, they are on...
Article
Full-text available
I was invited to give a talk at an international convention in the Vatican, organized by the Fondazione Vaticano Centesimo Anno Pro Pontifice in June 2019. It should serve the purpose of evaluating the impact of the papal encyclical issued in 2015 under the title Laudato Sí, coining the term integral ecology, of which I so far had not taken much no...
Article
Full-text available
This is a case study on a small mountainous island in the Aegean Sea with the policy goal of preparing it to become member of UNESCO’s World Network of Biosphere Reserves. While the local community opted for such an identity very early on, there are a number of obstacles to be overcome. The multidisciplinary research is based upon a sociometabolic...
Presentation
Full-text available
What I do: Describe humans as planetary force (> anthropocene) that strongly depends on making increasing use of an energy subsidy from Nature: fossil fuels. Sketch this as a longterm social, economic and technical transition process of different countries and world regions still ongoing, in which social progress is achieved by using ever more foss...
Book
Full-text available
The current working paper results from our ongoing transdisciplinary efforts at supporting a sustainability transition on the Greek island of Samothraki (Fischer-Kowalski et al. 2011, Petridis et al. 2017). Our research activities on Samothraki revolve around identifying those ecological and social factors that cause insular societies to prosper an...
Presentation
Full-text available
Recommendations of the International Scientific Advisory Board to the Association Sustainable Samothraki. Summary brochure 2019.
Technical Report
Full-text available
The international community has set ambitious goals for global prosperity and protecting the planet, including the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals and environmental conventions such as the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and the United Nations Convention t...
Book
Much is at stake as global society approaches the final decade before the Sustainable Development Goals are fixed to be realized in 2030. The international community has set high ambitions for global prosperity, the protection of our biological diversity and land resources, and limiting global warming. Progress towards these ambitions is within our...
Article
Recent high-level agreements such as the Paris Agreement and the Sustainable Development Goals aim at mitigating climate change, ecological degradation and biodiversity loss while pursuing social goals such as reducing hunger or poverty. Systemic approaches bridging natural and social sciences are required to support these agendas. The surging huma...
Article
The transition from a traditional agrarian to a fossil fuel based energy regime began before the industrial revolution and is still ongoing. This paper explores the relation of this transition process and social revolutions. Using statistical analysis, we find that at the very beginning of countries' energy transition, a critical phase can be ident...
Article
Full-text available
The global energy system subsumes both extreme wealth (and waste) and extreme poverty. A minority of the global population is consuming the majority of the fossil fuel-based energy and causing global warming. While the mature industrialized economies maintain their high levels of energy consumption, the emerging economies are rapidly expanding thei...
Article
Academic enterprises seeking to support society’s efforts to achieve global sustainability need to change their legacy reward systems. We need new structures to foster knowledge that is deeply integrated across disciplines and co-produced with non-academic stakeholders.
Chapter
By virtue of being close to the epicentre, the Nicobar Islands located in the Bay of Bengal were severely affected by the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami. Overwhelming aid followed, transforming an indigenous community of hunters-and-gatherers and coconut growers into a consumer society in a matter of months. Based on several years of fieldwork, this cha...
Article
Livestock keeping and food production from grasslands play an important role in the Mediterranean region, where grazing has a long tradition and still is a key livelihood strategy. Yet, in many places widespread degradation (caused by overgrazing) severely threatens the natural resource base and prospects for future food security and sustainable de...
Data
13 Scientists under the auspices of a local Environmental NGO "Sustainable Samothraki" provide an position statement on potential impacts from the proposed construction of wind turbine developments in the mountains of Samothraki Island, Greece. The proposed developments are within a Natura 2000 area (SAC, SPA) and a proposed UNESCO Man and Biospher...
Presentation
Full-text available
This is a presentation at the annual summer school in 2018. Unfortunately, the presentation from the year before on campers got lost. You find info on campers in our article Fischer-Kowalski, Marina, Markus Löw, Dominik Noll, Panos Petridis, and Nikolaos Skoulikidis. “Samothraki in Transition: A Report on a Real-World Lab to Promote the Sustainab...
Presentation
Full-text available
A call for applications to the Summer School on the Greek Island of Samothraki: 3rd to 12th June 2018. DEADLINE FOR APPLICATIONS NOW SET AT 15 FEBRUARY. This course primarily addresses students with some post-graduate research experience (Master’s Degree level or in course for post-graduate work) from both the natural and social sciences. Student...
Presentation
Full-text available
The presentation gives a narrative on ten years of research on the small Greek island of Samothraki, trying to specify: How far does a socioecological systems approach guide research, but also help to determine key stakeholders and their action potential? Which critical dynamics had to be dealt with, and what has been achieved? What have been the k...
Presentation
China and India, in their longterm development, have been very much alike: in terms of population, income, urban share and energy use. From the late 1940s on, this changes: China takes off rapidly towards an industrial transformation, and India much less. Why? We claim and seek to demonstrate quantitatively, that this has to do with the different c...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
This is a review of growth throughout the 20th century: demographic, economic and biophysical, and a discussion of the feedback links between these dimensions. We also discuss self-reinforcing loops within each dimension. The 20th century must be characterized as the most explosive, in all three dimensions, unprecedented in human history. Since the...
Presentation
Full-text available
The presentation introduces the concept of social metabolism and explains the distinction between sociometabolic regimes. It then describes, also quantitatively, the basic dynamics of the agrarian regime that is still dominant in many world regions, and the conditions for a transition from the agrarian to the industrial regime. Key to this transiti...
Poster
Full-text available
The Greek island of Samothraki has undergone rapid changes in recent decades. The consequences are a wide variety of environmental but also social problems which the island community is currently facing. One of the major threats is the sharp increase in free roaming small ruminants since the 1960s, which has led to overgrazing, soil erosion and inf...
Article
Full-text available
The international industrial ecology (IE) research community and United Nations (UN) Environment have, for the first time, agreed on an authoritative and comprehensive data set for global material extraction and trade covering 40 years of global economic activity and natural resource use. This new data set is becoming the standard information sourc...
Article
Full-text available
We highlight the importance of island research that aims to achieve sustainability transitions. All too often, developmental priorities are largely defined by economic policy imperatives, and island research either ignores or masks such normative connotations. This article reports on ten years of transdisciplinary socioecological research on the Gr...
Technical Report
Full-text available
This scientific assessment report on resource efficiency has been produced by the UN Environment’s International Resource Panel in response to a commission in June 2015 by the German Government, as an outcome of the G7 Summit meeting in Schloss Elmau. The report is based on the core work of the International Resource Panel, and of other internation...
Chapter
Full-text available
The goal of this chapter is a macro-scale discussion of growth: human, economic and material, and the positive feedback links between these macro elements. A sustainability transition, we argue, must address the full spectrum of these macro forces, and do so with the awareness of the historical forces that have shaped them. We represent human socie...
Article
Full-text available
What is socioecological research? How is it performed? How did it come about that socioecological research is taking place on Samothraki? In the following lines we will try to give short answers to those questions, before focusing on some of our research findings and current priorities. We will then discuss lessons we learned regarding the relevanc...
Chapter
Social Ecology is an interdisciplinary research field rooted in the traditions of both the Social Sciences and Natural Sciences. The common denominator of this research field is not a shared label but a shared paradigm. Related labels that extend beyond Social Ecology include Human Ecology, Industrial Ecology, Ecological Economics and Socioecologic...
Chapter
Full-text available
The very ‘insularity’ of islands makes them excellent focal points for sustainability studies that systematically analyze the interactions between human activities and the environment. In this chapter, we seek to explore the factors that cause island societies to prosper and sustain themselves and those that lead to collapse. A number of historical...
Chapter
Full-text available
Within the socioecological framework, labor figures in two contexts. One context is social metabolism: extracting and transforming materials from nature for social consumption. This is not fundamentally different from what any other animal does to secure its food and the food for its offspring, and it is, as far as we know from hunter-gatherers, no...
Chapter
Full-text available
This chapter outlines the basics of our socioecological theory. It starts with the question of why entities such as ‘culture’ have been so successful that an evolving species like humankind could become the dominant power on the planet. It explains social systems as ‘hybrids’, a structural coupling between a (cultural) communication system and inte...
Chapter
Full-text available
In the 20th century, the human population grew fourfold and the global economy grew 20-fold. This chapter explores how social metabolism has changed with these megatrends. It shows that material and energy use have grown faster than the population but less than the GDP, implying a growth in metabolic rates and some decoupling of resource use from e...
Article
Full-text available
Beset by an unprecedented combination of challenges including globalisation, demographic shifts, high unemployment and climate change, Europe is in dire need of a new kind of growth and development strategy. The authors of this Forum make compelling arguments for a socioecological transition, in which traditional measures of progress like GDP growt...
Article
Full-text available
In environmental policymaking, the figurative cake that is wanted both to have and eat lies in achieving dematerialisation, i.e. reducing material resource use, and simultaneously pursuing a pathway lined with economic growth. Under such a scenario, we could have it all: increasing production and international convergence at the highest levels of c...
Poster
Full-text available
The Greek island of Samothraki has undergone vast changes in the last five decades. The island had a typical agrarian socio-metabolic profile until the 1960s and has turned towards introducing a – however still moderate amount of - tourism, while at the same time responding to EU agricultural subsidies by increasing the number of small ruminants wh...
Book
Full-text available
This report provides a comprehensive understanding of linkages between the world economy, population and material use over four decades (1970–2010) based on a new and authoritative database of global material extraction and a revised database for materials trade. It uses a standard set of material flow accounting indicators as well as new indicator...
Book
This book presents the current state of the art in Social Ecology as practiced by the Vienna School of Social Ecology, globally one of the main research groups in this field. As a significant contribution to the growing literature on interdisciplinary sustainability studies, the book introduces the purpose and nature of Social Ecology and then plac...
Article
Social ecology is a highly dynamic interdisciplinary research field rooted in both social science and natural science traditions. The common denominator of this research field is not so much a shared label but a shared paradigm. The core axioms in this paradigm are that human social and natural systems interact, coevolve over time, with causality p...
Presentation
Full-text available
The course is a 2-week excursion to Samothraki with the aim to learn and apply aquatic ecology and social ecology approaches in a local setting while supporting current research and building synergy with the UNESCO Biosphere Reserve process. The course gives students the opportunity to engage in a real-life project and utilise their scientific trai...
Chapter
Full-text available
Addressing a social system’s metabolism means looking upon its economy in terms of biophysical stocks and flows. The chapter reviews the concept, its origins and operational definitions. Next, we discuss the energetic metabolism of societies, methodological and conceptual issues as well as relevant quantitative findings such as the increase of meta...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
What was the relation between changes in societies‘ energy metabolism and the occurrance of social revolutions? We use very long time series data for the transition from an agrarian biomass-based energy regime to a fossil fuel based „industrial“ energy regime for twenty countries. Some of these countries staged a revolution, other countries made a...
Article
Full-text available
The dominant energy sources used by human societies and the transitions from one energy source to another have fundamental implications for societal development. A future energy transition is pending but it remains unclear what its socioeconomic corollaries will be. The history of the dominant energy sources used by human societies and their implic...
Chapter
Full-text available
European societies face profound global changes over the coming decades that will alter the nature of work and employment and require pro-active and anticipatory policy responses. These global changes are driven by the socio-ecological transition (SET), described and analysed in Volume 1. In this second volume, we map the impact of these changes on...
Article
Full-text available
Social Ecology is a highly dynamic interdisciplinary research field rooted in both social science and natural science traditions. The common denominator of this research field is not so much a shared label but a shared paradigm. The core axioms in this paradigm are that human social and natural systems interact, co-evolve over time, with causality...
Chapter
Full-text available
Wissenschaft, die sich an gesellschaftlichen Problemen orientiert, ist heute inter- und transdisziplinär. Dieses Buch gibt Einblicke in die damit verbundenen Herausforderungen: Die Wissenschaftlerinnen und Wissenschaftler verlassen das sichere Terrain akademischer Disziplinen. Ihre Expertise wird relativiert, methodisches Neuland wird betreten. Auf...