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Economia Global e Gestão

versão impressa ISSN 0873-7444


SCHWARZ, Henrique. Three Axioms of Ecological Economics. Economia Global e Gestão [online]. 2009, vol.14, n.3, pp.39-60. ISSN 0873-7444.

Three axioms of ecological economics are discussed: that “natural” capital is the originating factor for the production of goods and the sink of the wastes of the economy; that the relationships between natural capital and “man made” capital are basically complementary; that natural resources are scarce, operating as "limiting factors” on capital accumulation. We ask what economists have historically said about these axioms. The conclusion is that they are in a line of continuity with the physiocrats' concept of “net product” and the theses of classical political economics on the role of land as a factor of production and the advent of the “stationary state”. But they contrast with the foundations of the neoclassical model, insofar as this model considers only labor and “man made” capital as perfect substitute factors of the macroeconomic production function. More recent models of economic science (endogenous growth theory and the theses on the role of knowledge in innovation) go against this conceptual framework, by introducing the concept of increased returns of information. They remain however anthropocentric and silent about the environmental restrictions on growth. Two types of essential cycles should be studied: the cycle of increased returns of information and the cycle of exploration with increasing costs of material resources and energy. Such contradictory cycles exert huge pressures on the environment, which implies new policies in the fields of management and regulation, if we want to avoid collapse.

Palavras-chave : Complementarity; Substitutability; Production Functions; Stationary State; Sustainability.

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