Using the musiasem approach to study metabolic patterns of modern societies

Giampietro Mario, Alevgul H. Sorman, Gonzalo Gamboa

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


This paper presents examples of application of the MuSIASEM approach (Multi-Scale Integrated Analysis of Societal and Ecosystem Meta-bolism). The text is organized as follows: Section 1 briefly discusses, using practical examples, the theoretical challenge implied by the quantitative analysis of complex metabolic systems. Complex metabolic systems are organized over multiple hierarchical levels, therefore, they require the adoption of different dimensions and multiple scales of analysis. This challenge has to be explicitly addressed by those performing quantitative analysis; Section 2 discusses two key characteristics to be considered when studying the evolution in time of the metabolic pattern of modern societies: the implications associated with changes in demographic structures (Section 2.1); and, the need of providing an integrated analysis of the structural change of socio-economic systems (Section 2.2). Such an analysis can be obtained by integrating the two functional/structural parts: (i) the part in charge for the production; and (ii) the part in charge for the consumption of goods and services. Section 3 provides an example of an integrated analysis of the evolution in time of the metabolic patterns of European Countries (data from an ongoing European Project - SMILE). This analysis shows clearly the problem generated by the use of data referring to the societal level (characteristics of whole countries). Looking only at the characteristics of the black-box, neglecting the differences of key parts operating inside the black-box, can lead to erroneous interpretation of data (e.g. the theory of Environmental Kuznets Curves). © Springer Science + Business Media B.V. 2010.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)37-68
JournalNATO Science for Peace and Security Series C: Environmental Security
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2010


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