The Frontiers Collection

Energy, Complexity and Wealth Maximization

Authors: Ayres, Robert

  • Offers a first-principles view of the history of wealth creation
  • Shows the unity of the disciplines, from physics and biology to economics, for understanding the requirements of wealth creation
  • Explains the interactions of information and natural resource flows in the human economy
  • Highlights the need for business and political leaders to understand basic science, particularly the laws of thermodynamics, in order to make good decisions
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Buy this book

eBook £43.99
price for United Kingdom (gross)
  • ISBN 978-3-319-30545-5
  • Digitally watermarked, DRM-free
  • Included format: PDF, EPUB
  • ebooks can be used on all reading devices
  • Immediate eBook download after purchase
Hardcover £55.99
price for United Kingdom (gross)
  • ISBN 978-3-319-30544-8
  • Free shipping for individuals worldwide
  • Usually dispatched within 3 to 5 business days.
About this book

This book is about the mechanisms of wealth creation, or what we like to think of as evolutionary "progress." The massive circular flow of goods and services between producers and consumers is not a perpetual motion machine; it has been dependent for the past 150 years on energy inputs from a finite storage of fossil fuels. In this book, you will learn about the three key requirements for wealth creation, and how this process acts according to physical laws, and usually after some part of the natural wealth of the planet has been exploited in an episode of "creative destruction." Knowledge and natural capital, particularly energy, will interact to power the human wealth engine in the future as it has in the past. Will it sputter or continue along the path of evolutionary progress that we have come to expect? Can the new immaterial wealth of information and ideas, which makes up the so-called knowledge economy, replace depleted natural wealth? These questions have no simple answers, but this masterful book will help you to understand the grand challenge of our time.
Praise for Energy, Complexity and Wealth Maximization:
“... people who run the modern world (politicians, economists and lawyers) have a very poor grasp of how it really works because they do not understand the fundamentals of energy, exergy and entropy ... those decision-makers would greatly benefit from reading this book ...” -  Vaclav Smil, Distinguished Professor Emeritus, University of Manitoba
“... A grandiose design; impressive, worth reading and reflecting!” - Prof. Dr. Ernst Ulrich von Weizäcker, Founder of Wuppertal Institute; Co-President of the Club of Rome, Former Member of the German Bundestag, co-chair of the UN’s Resource Panel
“... The book is a must read for concerned citizens and decision makers across the globe.”  - RK Pachauri, Founder and Executive Vice Chairman, The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) and ex-chair, International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)

About the authors

Professor Ayres holds a PhD in Mathematical Physics from Kings College, University of London, a MSc in Physics from the University of Maryland and a BA, BSc from the University of Chicago. He is currently Emeritus Professor of Economics and Political Science and of Technology and Operations Management at INSEAD, the international graduate business school.
He joined INSEAD in 1992, becoming the first Novartis Chair of Management and the Environment, as well as the founder of CMER, Center for the Management of Environmental Resources. He directed CMER from 1992-2000. Since retirement he has been a visiting professor at Chalmers Institute of Technology in Sweden (where he was also a King's Professor) and Institute Scholar at the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) in Austria, He remains active, producing publications on topics ranging from Industrial Metabolisms and Industrial Ecology, through Environmental Policy and Environmental Economics, to Energy. Professor Ayres is the author or coauthor of 21 books, most recently including The Economic Growth Engine (2009, with Benjamin Warr), Crossing the Energy Divide (2009, with Edward Ayres) and The Bubble Economy (2014).

Reviews

“Ayres does a great job in ‘explaining energy or entropy to otherwise educated people’ … which was the starting point of this book. He not only illustrates the physical basics of thermodynamics in a very comprehensible way for non-physicists, but also points out the importance of energy for the evolution of mankind. Therefore, (energy) economists as well as people interested in the interdependency between physics, technology and economics will certainly enjoy reading this book.” (Daniel Nachtigall, Journal of Economics, Vol. 121, 2017)


“Economists and physicists, like oil and water, resist mixing, sadly to the detriment of useful human knowledge. Bob Ayres is the rare combination of a physicist and a resource economist, giving him a unique understanding of the importance of useful energy services to all of life. This unique understanding is critical to the massive challenge human kind now faces – how to ‘power’ continued wealth creation without destroying the planet we call home. This book will almost certainly alter the way we approach this great challenge.” (Thomas R. Casten, Chair, Recycled Energy Development LLC)

“This is a must read for those who wish to understand what we've got wrong in our contemporary development paradigm and how we can fix it. By far the most important book in years that will reshape physics the way Darwin and Einstein have done, and will hopefully reshape economics too!” (Dr. Stefanos Fotiou, Director of the Environment and Development Division, UNEP)

“Bob Ayres is among the pioneers of this biophysical approach to economics, which may prove to be the most fruitful innovation in economics since Keynes. This extraordinary book crosses disciplinary boundaries to takes a broad, evolutionary perspective on human societies as thermodynamical dissipative structures. As natural resources become scarce and quality declines, knowledge is the one ingredient that may save us from following a path analogous to supernovae explosions. At a time when most economists confine themselves to partial and local micro-explanations, Ayres provides a big-picture understanding of the forces that underlie our current economic paradoxes.” (Gaël Giraud, Professor of Economics, Ecole Normale Superieur (Paris), and chief economist, Agence Francais pour Developpement)

“This magisterial synthesis traces the evolution of order and complexity from the Big Bang to Big Data to Big Dangers ahead. The book delineates the urgent collective challenge of making the ‘great transition’ from an economy that squanders nature’s wealth to a new paradigm rooted in a knowledge-based wealth.” (Dr. Paul Raskin, Founder and President Tellus Institute)

“Robert Ayres’ new book is a historic, a contemporary, and a future oriented work of immense depth of thought, written by an author of incredible knowledge and wisdom, and encompassing views and concepts of both social and natural sciences. It is theoretically interesting, empirically relevant and timely regarding integrated assessments of social and natural systems. I think the work is a seminal contribution to looking at the co-evolution of human (economic and social) development and the Earth system, and will especially help to comprehend the new geological era – the ‘Anthropocene’.” (Udo E. Simonis, Professor emeritus for Environmental Policy at the Berlin Social Science Center (WZB))

“In an age of sustainable development goals, there is no more urgent need for the policy makers and the public alike than to have a clear understanding of the complex linkages among energy, innovation, and wealth. Bob Ayres’ book has done a superb job, weaving back and forth between physics and economics seamlessly, in illuminating the history of wealth creation in the past through the conversion of materials into ‘useful things’ based on the consumption of energy, and providing insights into the future when wealth will be created by knowledge accumulation, de-materialization and institutional innovation. It is a must read for all of us who wish for a sustainable future for humanity.” (Lan Xue, Dean of School of Public Policy and Management, Tsinghua University, and Co-chair, UN Sustainable Development Solution Network)

Table of contents (12 chapters)

Buy this book

eBook £43.99
price for United Kingdom (gross)
  • ISBN 978-3-319-30545-5
  • Digitally watermarked, DRM-free
  • Included format: PDF, EPUB
  • ebooks can be used on all reading devices
  • Immediate eBook download after purchase
Hardcover £55.99
price for United Kingdom (gross)
  • ISBN 978-3-319-30544-8
  • Free shipping for individuals worldwide
  • Usually dispatched within 3 to 5 business days.
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Bibliographic Information

Bibliographic Information
Book Title
Energy, Complexity and Wealth Maximization
Authors
Series Title
The Frontiers Collection
Copyright
2016
Publisher
Springer International Publishing
Copyright Holder
Springer International Publishing Switzerland
eBook ISBN
978-3-319-30545-5
DOI
10.1007/978-3-319-30545-5
Hardcover ISBN
978-3-319-30544-8
Series ISSN
1612-3018
Edition Number
1
Number of Pages
XXV, 593
Number of Illustrations and Tables
1 b/w illustrations, 120 illustrations in colour
Topics