Abstract for: Living Within the Planetary Capacity: A Dynamic Feedback Approach

This article explores the root causes of throughput growth in market economies addressed in the literature in classical economic thinking, growth theory, ecological economics and system-dynamics. Today, with the intertwined influence of persisting low GDP growth and high unemployment rates, increasing commodity prices, widening income gaps, lasting severe social conflicts and ecosystems destruction, the growth paradigm is under strong scrutiny. In this research, we explore and create various feedback hypotheses, first to see whether there is a growth imperative in modern market economies. Then, the feedback models are used to assess potential counterintuitive responses to environmentally motivated strategies, to identify leverage points for a transformation towards a sustainable society and to guide future computer modeling activity that will help testing and development of high leverage policies. The analyses focus on the quest for an economy operating within the biophysical boundaries of natural environments, hence rather than GDP and alike monetary measures of economic growth, the scale of throughput, the food of human social metabolism is emphasized. Throughput is factored into per capita throughput multiplied with population, and the concern here is the drivers of growth in per capita throughput, not the human population.