Document Detail

Connecting thermodynamics and economics: well-lit roads and burned bridges.
MedLine Citation:
PMID:  20146759     Owner:  NLM     Status:  MEDLINE    
Almost 40 years have passed since Georgescu-Roegen's seminal work, The Entropy Law and the Economic Process. During this time there has been much debate on the relevance of thermodynamics to economics, and many attempts to build bridges between the two. There has also been much confusion as to what the laws of thermodynamics actually say. This article clearly explains heat, work, and the thermodynamic laws, the meaning of entropy, and the importance of kinetics as a barrier to thermodynamically favorable processes. The two most important misunderstandings in the literature, namely entropy as disorder, and entropy as a measure of information, are highlighted. Reviewing the literature shows that thermodynamics is most relevant for building a descriptive model, or preanalytic vision of economics, because it implies physical constraints on production and consumption. Similarly, it suggests that there may be serious flaws with neoclassical economic models, and in particular the primacy of sustained growth. However, thermodynamics does not seem to aid mathematical modeling in economics, nor does it provide normative insights. As an aid to energy policy, thermodynamics is useful for assessing the feasibility of technology options--those that have the potential to meet our goals, and should be counted as options, and those that should not. But it does not provide a prescription outside of this technical realm. Factors, such as environmental impact, cost, and social acceptability, will ultimately determine which technically feasible options are most desirable.
Mark David Glucina; Kozo Mayumi
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Publication Detail:
Type:  Journal Article; Review    
Journal Detail:
Title:  Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences     Volume:  1185     ISSN:  1749-6632     ISO Abbreviation:  Ann. N. Y. Acad. Sci.     Publication Date:  2010 Jan 
Date Detail:
Created Date:  2010-02-11     Completed Date:  2010-03-23     Revised Date:  -    
Medline Journal Info:
Nlm Unique ID:  7506858     Medline TA:  Ann N Y Acad Sci     Country:  United States    
Other Details:
Languages:  eng     Pagination:  11-29     Citation Subset:  IM    
Department of Mechanical Engineering, Graduate School of Advanced Technology and Science, The University of Tokushima, Tokushima, Japan.
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MeSH Terms
Economics / statistics & numerical data*,  trends
Hot Temperature
Models, Theoretical
Physics / methods

From MEDLINE®/PubMed®, a database of the U.S. National Library of Medicine

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