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The Road to Sustainability: GDP and Future Generations


Series: The Sustainable World Volume: 18

By: Federico Maria Pulselli (Editor), Simone Bastianoni (Editor), Enzo Tiezzi (Editor), Nadia Marchettini (Editor)

224 pages, illustrations

WIT Press

Hardback | Mar 2008 | #206325 | ISBN-13: 9781845641405
Availability: Usually dispatched within 1-2 weeks Details
NHBS Price: £84.99 $104/€96 approx

About this book

Is the concept of sustainability strongly founded on solid scientific bases? And can this elusive concept be introduced in the economic framework and embodied in people's behavior as well as public and private institutions' decision making? The Road to Sustainability: GDP and future generations presents a view of sustainability that starts from the acknowledgment of physical conditions and limits that humans can no longer neglect. It also includes some epistemological foundations of the concept of sustainability and historical backgrounds. The view is optimistic to the extent that economics, the compass of our industrial society, is open to inputs and suggestions coming from outside orthodox schemes.

Transdisciplinary science is one key element of such a change, and this book is a transdisciplinary project.In the field of the criticism to GDP as an omni-comprehensive instrument, the book also describes the methodology of the Index of Sustainable Economic Welfare (ISEW), proposed by H. Daly and John Cobb in 1989. They proposed some revisions to the System of National Accounts and GDP in order to add information for policy makers towards sustainability.Starting with consumption, some adjustments are proposed to allow for inequality of income distribution, environmental problems (such as pollution costs, long term environmental damage, depletion of non-renewable resources) and social issues (such as commuting costs, urbanization costs, public expenditure for health and education). Computations for different nations have shown that ISEW increases together with increasing GDP up to a point, beyond which it stagnates or even decreases, due to the environmental and social pressure of economic growth. The ISEW is a feasible calculation and some experiments at the local level in Italy are presented. Advances in integrating different sustainability indicators (both economic-based and physical-based) are also presented as well as their use under a sustainability viewpoint.


- Presentations: Environment, welfare and lifestyle
- ISEW - for a sustainable Province of Rimini
- The Road to Sustainability: GDP and Future Generations Preface

Part I: Foundations
- The megaptera's song, or what the GDP does not tell us
- Economics and environmental sensibility
- The foundations of sustainability
- Sustainable management of resources: commons, knowledge and nature
- Thermodynamics and the economics system: autarchy and globalisation
- The cube and the living system
- Transdisciplinarity

Part II: Methods
- 'Measuring' sustainability
- Plus and minus of sustainability: the index of sustainable economic welfare

Part III: Applications
- ISEW in the Province of Modena
- ISEW in the Province of Rimini
- Beyond the threshold


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Federico Maria Pulselli is a researcher in environmental and cultural heritage chemistry in the Department of Chemical and Biosystems Technologies at the Unviersity of Siena, Italy.

Simone Bastianoni is a professor of environmental and cultural heritage chemistry in the Department of Chemical and Biosystems Technologies at the Uniersity of Siena, Italy. He received his MS degree in Electronical Engineering at the University of Padua in 1990. In 1995 he received a Ph.D. in Chemical Sciences at the Universities of Siena and Perugia. He was researcher in Environmental Chemistry at the University of Siena (1997-2005), and Associate Professor of Physical Chemistry (2005-2006) at the University of Siena. His research focuses on the use of sustainability indicators based on thermodynamics, the application of thermodynamics to ecological systems and of kinetic models to systems of environmental relevance. He is author of more than 80 papers published in international journals.

Nadia Marchettini is a professor of environmental and ecultural heritage chemistry in the Department of Chemical and Biosystems Technologies at the Uniersity of Siena, Italy. Professor Marchettini received an MS in Biology and a Ph.D. Chemistry from the University of Siena where the professor's research focuses on nonlinear dynamics, with applications in the fields of chemistry, biology and the environment, in the field of nulear magnetic resonance spectroscopy, applied to biological systems, and in the field of environmental chemistry, with particular attention to the role of photosynthesis and of entropy, to the energy analysis of biomass,and to the thermodynamic analysis and study of energy flow in the ecosystem, as well as modelling the physical-chemical parameters involved in those processes that are of biological and environmental importance. She is associate editor of the WIT Press series Advances in Ecological Sciences.

Enzo Tiezzi is a full professor of Physical Chemistry at the University of Siena and author or co-author of five other books (The End of Time, The Essence of Time, Beauty and Science, Steps towards an evolutionary physics, and City out of Chaos) in the field of sustainability, as well as some 500 articles published in major scientific journals. A former Fulbright scholar, he was a member of the group of 25 scientists, who developed the concept of "sustainable development", first in Stockholm and Barcelona, then at the World Bank in Washington and, finally, at the ASPEN Institute in the United States. He is currently an editor of the International Journal of Design & Nature and Ecodynamics and chief editor of the WIT Press series The Sustainable World

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