Multi-scale integrated analysis of societal and ecosystem metabolism

Mario Giampietro*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in BookChapterResearchpeer-review


MuSIASEM provides a set of new narratives about the economic process that responds to the original challenges of the field of Ecological Economics. These alternative narratives can be used to identify and integrate four aspects of sustainability: (i) feasibility – compatibility with external constraints (processes outside of human control); (ii) viability – compatibility with internal constraints (processes under human control), (iii) desirability – compatibility with the stability of the social bonding (affective interactions in societal practices); (iv) security – the level of openness of the metabolic pattern (the extent of externalization of socio-economic and environmental pressures to other countries and ecosystems through imports). To achieve this result, MuSIASEM uses a complexity frame of reference. Starting out from the principles of bioeconomics of Geoergescu-Roegen, it elaborates the concept of metabolic pattern of social-ecological systems to explore the impredicative relations over the characteristics of structural and functional elements across scales and dimensions. Using relational analysis and integrating three different accounting metrics, the analytical toolkit generates a rich information space describing the impredicative entanglement of different attributes of performance across dimensions and scales. Rather than making predictions, MuSIASEM explores the option space of plausible changes based on a series of “what if” questions. This quantitative accounting framework can be applied in diagnostic mode, to identify critical sustainability issues, and in anticipation mode, to identify implausible policies. MuSIASEM thus provides a flexible decision support for multi-level governance while guaranteeing the transparency of the choices made by the analyst.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Barcelona School of Ecological Economics and Political Ecology
Subtitle of host publicationA Companion in Honour of Joan Martinez-Alier
EditorsSergio Villamayor-Tomas, Roldan Muradian
Place of PublicationCham
Number of pages13
ISBN (Electronic)978-3-031-22566-6
Publication statusPublished - 2023

Publication series

NameStudies in Ecological Economics
ISSN (Print)1389-6954
ISSN (Electronic)2542-9531


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