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Energy Analysis for a Sustainable Future: Multi-scale integrated Analysis of Societal and Ecosystem Metabolism



Earthscan/ Routledge, London



Mario Giampietro, Kozo Mayumi, and Alevgȕl Șorman



Energy Analysis for a Sustainable Future: Multi-scale integrated Analysis of Societal and Ecosystem Metabolism

Year of Publication











Krishna B. Misra



Review Complete


The book consists of the following 12 chapters grouped under two parts followed by Foreword, acknowledgements, list of abbreviations and Introduction:



09 Pages

Part 1: Defining the problem


Chapter 1

Energy accounting: sources of ambiguity

14 Pages

Chapter 2

Energy analysis: the troublesome birth of a new domain of knowledge

22 Pages

Chapter 3

The aggregation of energy flows at the national level

13 Pages

Chapter 4

The proper use of semantic and formal categories in energy accounting

31 Pages

Chapter 5

Energy Flows under human control: energy input, power capacity, and human labour

28 Pages

Chapter 6

Cutting through the confusion in net energy analysis

41 Pages

Part 2: Proposing a solution


Chapter 7

In search of a richer, integrated and multi-scale accounting protocol

27 Pages

Chapter 8

Concepts, ideas and representations underlying the multi-scale integrated accounting of society’s energy



Chapter 9

Dual accounting of energy flows and characterization of the metabolism pattern across hierarchical levels

24 Pages

Chapter 10

Studying the feasibility and desirability of the metabolism pattern of society from within

23 Pages

Chapter 11

Using the MuSIASEM approach to check the external constraints on metabolic pattern of modern societies

18 Pages

Chapter 12

Using MuSIASEM for studying scenarios based on alternatives to fossil energy

22 Pages

Conclusions: where do we go from here?

06 Pages

Appendix 1: The historical roots of the ambiguity of the quantification of energy

14 Pages

Appendix 2: The tautology used to generate the quantitative assessments in the flow chart illustrated in Figure 4.2



11 Pages


07 Pages



The subject of energetics or energy economics is study of energy under transformation. Energy flows at all levels and scales, from quantum level to biosphere and cosmos. Energetics is a very broad discipline 9780415539661encompassing thermodynamics, biology, chemistry, biochemistry, ecology etc. Since energy flows under transformation, the principles of energetics follow the four laws of thermodynamics.

The authors of this book have had sound background in energetics. Mario Giampietro’s interest in energetics was kindled by lectures of Prof. Gino Parolini in 1978 and has tried to develop an integrated and holistic approach to energy analysis based on Prof. Parolini’s suggestions at the University of La Sapienza in Rome, whereas Kozo Mayumi’s interest in energetics was generated by Atsushi Tsuchida the founder of Japanese Entropy School.

This book is about energy accounting. Energy can be measured using different units such as joules, kWh, kcal, Btu or quads. The problem starts when we try to account or integrate involving aggregation of different types of energy forms. The authors emphasize that a single method of accounting of energy in terms of joules would be unrealistic since energy has different scales and domains that are non-equivalent due to different forms and scales of energy since data generated within non-equivalent processes cannot be summed up even if expressed in the same unit. The quantitative assessment of aggregation at the national level cannot be useful for decision making or prioritizing the sources particularly when several alternative sources of energy are available. Context is important when equivalence is being considered since a kilogram of apples and a kilogram of oranges in weight are not equivalent in as far as vitamin C or price is concerned. So they cannot be aggregated on the basis of weight. As one can infer from the table of contents the book is organized in two parts. The first part of the book deals with the definition of the problem. And the second part deals with the approach used for the solution of the problem.

The book is quite exhaustive and makes an important contribution to the subject but needs to have some background in energetics to understand and appreciate the contents. The authors themselves admit

that the readers “unfamiliar with field of energetics, even if familiar with sustainability studies … do not

seem particularly impressed by our achievement nor by the chosen subject of investigation”.

- Krishna B. Misra


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