FROM BIOECONOMICS TO BIOECONOPHYSICS
Gheorghe Săvoiu1 and Ion Iorga Simăn2
1, 2 University of Pitesti, Romania
1e-mail: email@example.com,2 e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Abstract. This interdisciplinary approach of the economy
changes its classical concept for reasons connected with the
need to extend the biology laws in the economic reality, but
also to replace the outdated view of the classical and
unsystematic economic theory, in the view of the external
environment, limited resources and the coexistence of man
with other species, in a limited habitation. Econophysics is
another interdisciplinary approach to economics and physics,
yet focused on improving the model of investigation by
capitalizing on the realism of physics models in the subject of
study of the economy and by improving it from the instrumental
and experimental point of view. Bioeconophysics seems to be
not a compromise but a first real attempt of the economic
reality by valorizing the laws of biology and the models of
Keywords: bioeconomics, bioeconophysics, bioeconomy,
trans-, inter-, and multidisciplinarity.
Among the most important economic school of the 20th
century one can find Bioeconomics, a transdisciplinary science
placed alphabethically between Austrian school and the
Chicago school, in a long list together with constitutional
economics, evolutionary economics, econophysics school,
Freiburg school, Freiwirtschaft, Georgism school, institutional
economics, Keynesian economics, Marxian (Marxist) and neo-
Marxian economics, Neo-Ricardianism, New classical
macroeconomics, New Keynesian and Post-Keynesian
economics, public choice school, Lausanne school,
sociophysics school, Stockholm school, etc.
As a new concept, Bioeconomics was used for the first time
by British biologist Hermann Reinheimer, in 1913, in his paper
entitled Evolution by Co-operation: A Study in Bioeconomics,
and today we can find four usual significations :
A. Studying the dynamics of living resources using
economic models (Fisheries)
B. Economic systems based on the laws of thermodynamics
C. Study of the relationship between human biology and
economics (Biological economics)
D. Social theory of Nicholas Georgescu – Roegen
One of the most important and recognized mathematician,
statistician, demographer and biologists in USA, during the
first half of the 20th century, Alfred James Lotka (1880-1949)
was the first theoretician of the new science, based on his
opinion about population described as an aggregate with
renewal processes, and especially based on his reputation and
knowledge. In fact, Lotka defined Bioeconomics or
Biophysical economics as a profound correlation between the
biological laws and the thermodynamic laws inside the
permanent competition for energy and material resources .
But the real father of the Bioeconomics was Nicholas
Georgescu-Roegen (1906-1994), a well known Romanian-
born and finally American statistician, mathematician,
economist and bioeconomist, the major author of the
interpretation of economics through the new paradigm of the
so-called Bioeconomics. His essential conception and his
defining manner are based on physics turned entropy into
Bioeconomics [4, 5].
The new paradigm of bioeconomics is still difficult to define,
especially because some ambiguities developed during the last
decades. Thus, the modern economist can find three important
sets of questions that need answers:
Bioeconomy or Bioeconomics? Is Bioeconomics different
from bioeconomy? Are these terms synonymous? Bioeconomy
defines a set of specific economic activities and political
projects, while bioeconomics has numerous different
important significances: a) a study of how organisms of all
kinds earn their living in nature’s economy (Reinheimer,
1913); b) a relationship holding between the biological laws of
evolution and the laws of thermodynamics (Lotka, 1925); c) a
research paradigm  combining two independent, though in
many respects related, scientific disciplines: economics and
biology (Witt, 1999); d) a specific type of economy  where
the basic building blocks for materials, chemicals and energy
are derived from renewable biological resources (McCormick
& Kautto, 2013).
What does Bioeconomics mean for his originator
Nicholas Georgescu-Roegen, as a different type of economics?
Which is the most important aspect in Bioeconomics? In
Nicholas Georgescu-Roegen’s research approach, or scientific
vision Bioeconomics became: i) a real solution to unavoidable
ecological disasters that would make the survival of the human
species the shortest of all on this globe; ii) a combination
including evolution of biology, economics and
thermodynamics; iii) an approach to the economic process seen
as an extension of biologic evolution (human ability, and
ultimately the capacity of the species, of developing tools and
generating detachable organs, or extensions of the human
body, redefined as exosomatic organs, which becomes a
biologic component of bioeconomics); iv) a physical view
(econophysics) does exist at the very start of bioeconomics as
incapacity of classic economics to understand and recognize
the economic process of cumulative (irreversible) change,
caused by the mechanist dogma.
2. THE ECONOMIC PROCESS AS AN ENTROPIC
The economic process was, is, and will still be, an entropic
process in Bioeconomics, where four postulates are essential in
Nicholas Georgescu-Roegen’s view:
I. The qualitative changes caused by the extensions of the
human body contributed to the stagnation of the progress of
classical (mechanist) economics, the degradation of the
environment by man and the human race, destroying the
II. There is an irreductible, permanent opposition between the
economic process in the mechanist and thermodynamic views:
the entropy of a closed economic system continually and
irreversibly rises to a maximum value, the energy available
being transformed into unavailable energy, until it disappears.
Modern Malthusianism (the Bartle law): exponential
economic growth is correlated with the increasing penury of
resources. There is no absolute substitutability.
III. Starting from thermodynamics and the second axiom, the
idea emerges that matter is subject to the same degradation as
energy is (the example of irretrievable rubber, of plastic, etc.)
IV. Not even the most efficient recycling system will be able
to stop the degradation of resources! This is how entropy works
today in contemporary bioeconomics!
The seven findings or derived principles of bioeconomics
remain the following objectives from Nicholas Georgescu-
Roegen work [8, 9]:
1. The technological optimism of classical economics is
absolutely unreasonable and groundless.
2. Production implies the transformation of a limited stock of
raw materials and energy, and is in accordance with the laws
of the economy. Economic growth is only an apparent increase
in the ratio of outputs per inputs, and a genuine entropic
degradation of the resources and energy.
3. The Earth has limited resources and energy, and is not the
property of a given generation.
4. The principle of the conservation of resources and energy
5. The excesses of classical consumerism must be deterred,
the resources should be made global, which includes human
resources, who should no longer possess a passaport
6. Policies based on bioeconomics imply no risk, since the
economic process is irreversible.
7. Restricting life focused on exosomatic comfort, which is
short and tumultuous, and the expansion of a lifestyle that
seems to be more monotonous, and yet longer.
The excessively structured and monopolized economic
process has an ever higher entropy. Entropy can also change a
clasical econonomic program into a bioeconomic one that
looks like Nicholas Georgescu-Roegen’s program described
by Nicholas Wade in Penthouse, not in a cave  in only three
a) diminishing weapon production to total disappearance;
b) diminishing population to the level of food ensured by
c) consumption for consumption’s sake, or trendy
consumption should be seen as a type of bioeconomic crime
legally punished (e.g. changing one’s car yearly).
Biology, Physics and Economics together mean in the last
two decades not only clasical Bioeconomics but much more,
Bioeconophysics, as a new science, including their specific
models or bioeconophysics models. The first model of the
classical bioeconomics was rather a descriptive one (Lotka-
Voltera model), but the new models of bioeconophysics are
more efficient (e.g. the econophysics and sociophysics
models). Biophysical Economics or Ecological Economics are,
in different contexts, somehow similar to Econobiophysics or
The economic process consists in the continuous
transformation of low entropy into high entropy and thus
Biology and Physics are apparently in a state of permanent
confruntation, and the autonomy of classical economics is an
illusion. Physics exerts isolation through experiment, while
biology emphasizes the importance of nullification of
isolation, or laying stress on the outer milieu. Economic
systems cannot be taxonomized in detail in a biologic manner,
starting from individuals to the species, etc. even some trends
in experimental economics constantly try to do this complete
Bioeconophysics has characteristic conceptual dualities [10,
11, 12]. In thermodynamics there are two essential variables:
temperature and pressure. By making use of temperature and
pressure, the two laws of thermodynamics are determined.
Economic theory also focuses on two parameters: capital and
labour. Accountancy leads to equations that correspond to the
laws of thermodynamics. Capital and temperature, labour
and pressure, surplus/deficit and heat/loss of heat, the
production function and entropy, the living standards and
energy, become similar concepts or conceptual dualities
through the similarity of economic and thermodynamic theory.
Biology is also a natural science, whose theory also centres on
two parametres: living plants and animals, which are
assimilated to heat and entropy. Living plants and animals are
the same thing as heat, while the DNA becomes entropy.
Photosynthesis is a Carnot production process, etc.
A new theory is not necessary in order to delimit the full
understanding of bioeconophysics, but only a reinterpretation
specific to trans-, inter- and multidisciplinary researches.
The new science of bioeconomics considers that some
patterns of biological evolution can be applied in the economic
behavior of consumers, producers, the market, etc., as many of
the same causal interactions and survival elements are found
there as well as in nature (e.g. a theory of homogeneous
middleman groups as adaptive units, the bioeconomics of
cooperation, etc.) In biology, groups of organisms coexist
together to make the best use of resources and to live together,
while promoting the survival of the fittest.
Bioeconomics is not the science of behavioral finance, but it
represents another example of economic theory that
differentiates itself from the boundaries of classical economics,
and tries to better explain the complexity of economics in the
Bioeconophysics expressly recognizes the quality of the
physical models applied in bioeconomics and their high degree
of clarity and prognosis.
The new civilizations are trying to create a wholly new world
order. Policies and predictions, even global, will fail if they are
incompatible with the universal economic reality. Only used
together will competition and cooperation be useful for the
success of adaptation and innovation. Information, or modern
knowledge in an economy, does not replace energy, and energy
use is unlikely to diminish.
Production resources should not be sacrificed by trade, and
subsidies removed to achieve greater economic efficiency.
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