Assessing the sustainability of the UK society using thermodynamic concepts: part 1

Alexandros Gasparatos, Mohamed El-Haram, Malcolm Horner

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    26 Citations (Scopus)


    This paper provides a concise overview of the influence of human activity within the UK society on resource consumption and the subsequent effects on the environment. The concept of the Multi Scale Integrated Analysis of Societal Metabolism (MSIASM) is applied in order to elucidate the evolution of the UK economy for the period between 1981 and 2004. Our findings highlight the transition to a service-based economy and the disproportionate increase of energy demand when compared to the overall population increase. Emergy synthesis is applied in order to understand the production and consumption patterns and the environmental support required to sustain human activity within the UK for the year 2004. Generally speaking the UK society greatly benefits from its significant natural resources with 44.3% of the total emergy used coming from home sources and 29.1% from locally renewable sources. Interestingly enough, despite its significant natural resources, the UK economy, seems to be a net emergy importer by 638.5 x 10(21) seJ. Furthermore, the current economic activity is believed to have a significant impact in the environment despite the relatively low environmental load ratio of 2.44. (C) 2008 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1074-1081
    Number of pages8
    JournalRenewable & Sustainable Energy Reviews
    Issue number5
    Publication statusPublished - Jun 2009


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