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FROM BIOECONOMICS TO BIOECONOPHYSICS

Authors:
  • University of Pitesti Faculty of Economic Sciences and Law Pitesti and Romanian Statistical Association - Bucharest - Romania

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concept for reasons connected with the need to extend the biology laws in the economic reality, but also to replace the outdated view of the classical and unsystematic economic theory, in the view of the external environment, limited resources and the coexistence of man with other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 Econophysics.
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FROM BIOECONOMICS TO BIOECONOPHYSICS
Gheorghe Săvoiu1 and Ion Iorga Simăn2
1, 2 University of Pitesti, Romania
1e-mail: gsavoiu@yahoo.com,2 e-mail: ioniorgasiman@yahoo.com
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also to replace the outdated view of the classical and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
econophysics.
Keywords: bioeconomics, bioeconophysics, bioeconomy,
trans-, inter-, and multidisciplinarity.
1. INTRODUCTION
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 [1]:
A. Studying the dynamics of living resources using
economic models (Fisheries)
B. Economic systems based on the laws of thermodynamics
(Biophysical)
C. Study of the relationship between human biology and
economics (Biological economics)
D. Social theory of Nicholas Georgescu Roegen
(Bioeconomics) [2].
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 [3].
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 natures economy (Reinheimer,
1913); b) a relationship holding between the biological laws of
evolution and the laws of thermodynamics (Lotka, 1925); c) a
research paradigm [6] combining two independent, though in
many respects related, scientific disciplines: economics and
biology (Witt, 1999); d) a specific type of economy [7] 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-Roegens 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
PROCESS
The economic process was, is, and will still be, an entropic
process in Bioeconomics, where four postulates are essential in
Nicholas Georgescu-Roegens view:
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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
economic process.
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
is fundamental.
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
(Georgescu-Roegen).
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-Roegens program described
by Nicholas Wade in Penthouse, not in a cave [4] in only three
common points:
a) diminishing weapon production to total disappearance;
b) diminishing population to the level of food ensured by
organic farming;
c) consumption for consumptions sake, or trendy
consumption should be seen as a type of bioeconomic crime
legally punished (e.g. changing ones car yearly).
3. BIOECONOPHYSICS/ECONOBIOPHYSICS
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
Bioeconophysics.
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
taxonomy.
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.
4. CONCLUSIONS
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
present time.
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.
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Production resources should not be sacrificed by trade, and
subsidies removed to achieve greater economic efficiency.
5. REFERENCES
[1] Reinheimer, H. (1913). Evolution by Co-operation: A
Study in Bio-economics. London: Kegan Paul, Trench,
Trubner and Co., p. 200.
[2] Bieconomics, (2017). Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia,
[online] available at:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bioeconomics [Accesed 12
September, 2017]
[3] Lotka, A.J., (1925). Elements of Physical Biology,
Baltimore: Williams and Wilkins Company.
[4] Wade, N., (1976). Penthouse, dar nu cavernă, Nicholas
Georgescu-Roegen un om al viitorului, în Nicholas Georgescu-
Roegen, Omul și opera, București: Ed. Expert.
[5] Demetrescu, M.C., (1996). Filosofia matematicii în
economie, în Nicholas Georgescu-Roegen, Omul și opera,
București: Editura Expert.
[6] Witt, U., (1999). Bioeconomics as Economics from a
Darwinian Perspective. Journal of Bioeconomics. Volume 1,
Issue 1, pp. 19-34.
[7] McCormick, Kautto, N., (2013). The Bioeconomy in
Europe: An Overview. Sustainability, Volume 5, Issue 6, pp.
2589-2608.
[8] Miernyck, W., (1996). Un spirit în avans față de timpul
său, în Nicholas Georgescu-Roegen, Omul și opera, București:
Editura Expert.
[9] Mirowski, P., (1996) Nicholas Georgescu-Roegen, în
Nicholas Georgescu-Roegen, Omul și opera, București:
Editura Expert.
[10] Poudel, R., (2016). Energetic Foundation of Statistical
Economics, 7th BioPhysical Economics Conference
[11] Richmond, P., Mimkes, J., and Hutzler, S.,
(2013). Econophysics and Physical Economics (economic
pressure, pgs. 169-70), Oxford: Oxford University Press.
[12] Mimkes, J., (2016). Bio-econo-physics: Synthesis of
Natural and Social Sciences? The 7th Biophysical Economics
Conference at the University of District of Columbia,
Washington DC.
... It has a much more universal character which is the basis for all processes and phenomena in nature and the biosphere as a whole. The latest integration scientific platforms, which include a whole arsenal of all scientific fields, try to explain deeply the processes of socioeconomic phenomena in symbiosis with the humanity and the natural resources in the biosphere [6]. ...
... The equilibrium processes in nature and society can be explained by thermodynamic aspects leading to the development of the new scientific platform -bioеconophysics [6]. It uses the entropic approach that serves as a parameter for qualitative and quantitative assessment of the current state of this complex system: Humanity -Material and spiritual goods -Biosphere. ...
... It uses the entropic approach that serves as a parameter for qualitative and quantitative assessment of the current state of this complex system: Humanity -Material and spiritual goods -Biosphere. According to this entropic bioеconophysical concept [6], the following points and goals are proposed to be taken into account: ...
Article
Full-text available
The biosphere as a physical space in which there is life, including human life, is quantitatively characterized by population quantities. The population can be described by certain physical laws in thermodynamic approximation with the application of the notion of entropy. Entropy is a term not only purely physical but also universal. It is a criterion for the description of the evolution and development of the unique Biosphere-Human system. The development of human societies as a part component of the Biosphere is subject to the transformations that are the result of technical developments and the technical-scientific revolution in general. These anthropogenic activities lead to the negative effects upon the Biosphere with the accumulations of pollutants both in the atmosphere and in the system as a whole. The entropy of the Biosphere component as a result of the accumulation of pollutants changes over time. Human physical , ecological and social health is at risk, with the further development of pathological states and human health problems. The entropy of the human component is increasing and the entropy of the Biosphere is decreasing, respectively. The decrease in Biosphere entropy is dictated by the disappear of many species of plants and animals as a consequence of the ecological problem. It is necessary to mention that the steady state and the equilibrium state have different meanings. The steady state is described by a very complex stage under the action of multiple factors with a tendency to stabilize parameters that do not vary over time and the system components "adapt" to these stabilized numerical values such as ambient temperature, pressure and constant amounts of species of animals and plants. The equilibrium state is an idea lized case of the system which from a purely thermodynamic point of view is described by maximum entropy. This paper shows that the human entropy increases at the expense of the decreasing of biosphere entropy, a fact of the universal principle of the conservation of energy. The increase in human entropy results to the instability and risk with self-destructive tendencies unless the steady state is not assured. The mechanisms for the obtaining of the steady state are complex and can be based on some rules and principles at a global level with tendencies to use non-traditional energy sources and of the waste recycling with effects of reducing of the accumulation of pollutants in the atmosphere.
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Bioeconomics—the merging of views from biology and economics—on the one hand invites the ''export'' of situational logic and sophisticated optimization developed in economics into biology. On the other hand, human economic activity and its evolution, not least over the past few centuries, may be considered an instance for fruitfully applying ideas from evolutionary biology and Darwinian theory. The latter perspective is taken in the present paper. Three different aspects are discussed in detail. First, the Darwinian revolution provides an example of a paradigm shift which contrasts most significantly with the ''subjectivist revolution'' that took place at about the same time in economics. Since many of the features of the paradigmatic change that were introduced into the sciences by Darwinism may be desirable for economics as well, the question is explored whether the Darwinian revolution can be a model for introducing a new paradigm in economic theory. Second, the success of Darwinism and its view of evolution have induced economists who are interested in an evolutionary approach in economics to borrow, more or less extensively, concepts and tools from Darwinian theory. Particularly prominent are constructions based on analogies to the theory of natural selection. Because several objections to such analogy constructions can be raised, generalization rather than analogy is advocated here as a research strategy. This means to search for abstract features which all evolutionary theories have in common. Third, the question of what a Darwinian world view might mean for assessing long term economic evolution is discussed. Such a view, it is argued, can provide a point of departure for reinterpreting the hedonistic approach to economic change and development. On the basis of such an interpretation bioeconomics may not only go beyond the optimization-cum-equilibrium paradigm currently prevailing in economics. It may also mean adding substantial qualifications to the subjectivism the neoclassical economists, at the turn of the century, were proud to establish in the course of their scientific revolution.
Evolution by Co-operation: A Study in Bio-economics
  • H Reinheimer
Reinheimer, H. (1913). Evolution by Co-operation: A Study in Bio-economics. London: Kegan Paul, Trench, Trubner and Co., p. 200.
  • A J Lotka
Lotka, A.J., (1925). Elements of Physical Biology, Baltimore: Williams and Wilkins Company.
Penthouse, dar nu cavernă
  • N Wade
Wade, N., (1976). Penthouse, dar nu cavernă, Nicholas Georgescu-Roegen un om al viitorului, în Nicholas Georgescu-Roegen, Omul și opera, București: Ed. Expert.
Filosofia matematicii în economie
  • M C Demetrescu
Demetrescu, M.C., (1996). Filosofia matematicii în economie, în Nicholas Georgescu-Roegen, Omul și opera, București: Editura Expert.
Un spirit în avans față de timpul său
  • W Miernyck
Miernyck, W., (1996). Un spirit în avans față de timpul său, în Nicholas Georgescu-Roegen, Omul și opera, București: Editura Expert.
  • P Mirowski
Mirowski, P., (1996) Nicholas Georgescu-Roegen, în Nicholas Georgescu-Roegen, Omul și opera, București: Editura Expert.
Energetic Foundation of Statistical Economics
  • R Poudel
  • P Richmond
  • J Mimkes
  • S Hutzler
Poudel, R., (2016). Energetic Foundation of Statistical Economics, 7th BioPhysical Economics Conference [11] Richmond, P., Mimkes, J., and Hutzler, S., (2013). Econophysics and Physical Economics (economic pressure, pgs. 169-70), Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Bio-econo-physics: Synthesis of Natural and Social Sciences? The 7th Biophysical Economics Conference at the University of District of Columbia
  • J Mimkes
Mimkes, J., (2016). Bio-econo-physics: Synthesis of Natural and Social Sciences? The 7th Biophysical Economics Conference at the University of District of Columbia, Washington DC.