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Waste potential entropy: the ultimate ecotoxic?

Author: Ayres, Robert U. ; Martinas, K.INSEAD Area: Economics and Political Science Series: Working Paper ; 94/36/EPS Publisher: Fontainebleau : INSEAD Centre for the Management of Environmental and Social Responsibility (CMER) 1994.Language: EnglishDescription: 24 p.Type of document: INSEAD Working Paper Online Access: Click here Abstract: We explore some economic implications of three simple ideas. These are as follows: (1) all resource flows and all economic goods and services can be characterized as stocks or flows of "useful" embodied information, (2) the economy is an information processor, in the sense that large quantities of low grade "physical" information are converted, by intention, into smaller quantities of higher grade "morphological" and "symbolic" information and (3) the most general pollutant is the physical information in the waste. Production, in the economic system, is the conversion of low economic value information-content raw materials into high economic value information-content goods and services. We point out in this paper that entropy generated in the creation of economic goods or services is not a priori damaging to the environment. Entropy, as such, is not pollution, although it is generated by the consumption of non-renewable natural resources
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We explore some economic implications of three simple ideas. These are as follows: (1) all resource flows and all economic goods and services can be characterized as stocks or flows of "useful" embodied information, (2) the economy is an information processor, in the sense that large quantities of low grade "physical" information are converted, by intention, into smaller quantities of higher grade "morphological" and "symbolic" information and (3) the most general pollutant is the physical information in the waste. Production, in the economic system, is the conversion of low economic value information-content raw materials into high economic value information-content goods and services. We point out in this paper that entropy generated in the creation of economic goods or services is not a priori damaging to the environment. Entropy, as such, is not pollution, although it is generated by the consumption of non-renewable natural resources

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