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In this chapter we have looked at industrial restructuring options in terms of improving energy efficiency in a developing country. We have drawn largely from the example of India because it is not only a poor developing country but has a high rate of industrialization, and thus offers a wide spectrum of possibilities for improvement in efficiency and energy savings. One can assume that what is applicable to India will to a certain degree also hold for all other developing countries. Also, what is applicable to energy consumption in the industrial sector (including transport) will in some respects also be applicable to other raw materials and natural resources.

In general, energy-conservation measures have a positive environmental effect by reducing the volume of pollutants discharged from the energy-conversion process as well as by reducing the throughput of raw materials. However, their effect will depend on the type of measure, the type of industry, and the quantity of energy saved.

The qualitative environmental effects of energy conservation in four energy-intensive industries in India are presented in table 15. These measures have particular relevance for developing countries undertaking major industrial projects as, subject to financial con straints, they can bypass outmoded technologies. This is what has been called the "advantage of the late-comers."

Fig. 2 Potential for energy saving, selected industries in India (Source: Energy Management Centre)

Table 15 Energy-conservation measures in major Indian industry subsectors and environmental impact

Pollution Major energy-conservation
Impact on environment
Iron and steel Coke ovens: sulphur dioxide in air; ammonia steel wastes and light-formed coke oil decanter wastes containing phenols, ammonia, cyanides, chlorides and sulphur compounds Substitution of metallurgical coke
by formed coke
Easier accommodation to pollution control
Dry quenching helps in reduction of pollution from the quench tower
Blast furnace: particulate emissigns in off-gases; H2S and SO2 in air; suspended solids; cyanides, in water; a solid waste as slag Direct reduction and electric furnace melting Need for metallurgical coal is voided along with attendant pollution problem
Steel-making processes: fumes
from furnaces; suspended soils
in water
Basic oxygen steel-making Reduction in energy
Better control options on pollution than with open-hearth furnace
Steel-rolling and furnishing: air
borne scale, lubricating oils,
spent pickle liquor, and pickling
rinse water
  Continuous casting; heat conservation; gas cleaning
Cement Rotary kiln: SO2, Nox, and particulates Wet process to dry process Owingto significant impact upon energy requirements, there is a
reduction in airborne pollution
Grinding: particulates   Discharge of water from wet process cement plants is absent in dry-process cement manufacture
Precalciners The generation of nitrogen oxides is reduced by both the low
temperature and the short time
combustion gases he stay in the burning zone, relative to conventional kilns.
Use of pozzolanic cements and slag cement The increased use of these cemeets would provide beneficial
and economic use of such waste
materials as blast furnace slag
or fly ash, thereby tending to reduce the environmental prob
lems associated with these waste materials
Aluminium Pollution associated with burning
of coal to raise steam for alumina plant and electricity for both
alumina and aluminium plants.
Fluoride emissions from electrolytic cells
Aluminium chloride electrolysis process
to coal saving and reduction
related coal-burning
Reduction in electrial energy consumption by 30 per cent leads
Hard metal cathode made of titanium carbide or titanium dibromice replacing carbon cathode Reduction in electrical energy is with y 20 per cent, attendant
reduction in coal
consumption and hence in pollution from

Source: Pachauri and Sambasivan, 1989.

In summarizing, the policies of developing countries for the industrial sector should:

- increase awareness about the needs and benefits of energy conservation;
- develop technical expertise through training at various levels;
- provide fiscal incentives/disincentives to implement energy-saving schemes;
- institute a nodal organization to coordinate energy-conservation efforts in industry;
- encourage manufacturers to coordinate energy-conservation efforts in industry;
- encourage manufacture of energy-efficient equipment, devices, and instruments; and
- strike a balance between energy use, energy conservation, and pollutionabatement measures.

What applies to energy consumption naturally also applies to other material inputs, as well as to waste disposal. It seems to us that the pursuance of a conservation strategy such as the one outlined above, motivated by various environmental and economic incentives, constitutes the industrial restructuring agenda for a sustainable development path in developing countries.

The process of industrialization is far from satisfactory in developing countries. There are persistent shortages of basic industrial products such as iron and steel and low per capita availability of these products, in spite of an abundance of natural resources. This being the case, the consumption of raw materials and the production of wastes are probably going to increase further. However, industrial restructuring to reduce the throughput of energy and materials in the industrial system can also occur simultaneously with the process of industrial growth that is under way in developing countries. The potential for this restructuring and, implicitly, for an improved "industrial metabolism" is enormous, as the preceding sections should have demonstrated.


Ayres, R. U. 1989. "Industrial Metabolism." In: J. Ausubel and H. Sladovic, eds., Technology and Environment. Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press.

Brown, L. R., et al. 1985. State of the World. A Worldwatch Institute Report on Progress toward a Sustainable Society. Washington, D.C.: W.W. Norton & Co.

Daly, H. E. 1990. "Toward Some Operational Principles of Sustainable Development." Ecological Economics 2.

Daly, H. E., and J. Cobb. 1989. Towards the Common Good: Redirecting the Economy towards Community, the Environment and a Sustainable Future. Boston, Mass.: Beacon Press.

Georgescu-Roegen, N. 1980. "Energy, Matter and Economic Valuation: Where Do We Stand?" In: Daly and Umana, eds., Energy, Economics and the Environment. AAAS Selected Symposium 64.

Goodland, R. 1991. "The Case that the World Has Reached Limits." In: R. Goodland, H. Daly, and S. El Serafy, eds., Environmentally Sustainable Economic Development: Building on Brundtland. Washington, D.C.: World Bank.

Government of India. Interministerial Working Group on Energy. 1983. Report on Utilization and Consumption of Energy.

Meadows, D. H., D. L. Meadows, and J. Randers. 1992. Beyond the Limits. Post Mills, Vt.: Chelsea Green Publishing.

Mikesell, R. F. 1991. "Project Evaluation and Sustainable Development." In: Goodland, Daly, and El Serafy, eds., Environmentally Sustainable Economic Development: Building on Brundtland. Washington, D.C.: World Bank.

Pachauri, R. K., and G. Sambasivan. 1989. "Energy Conservation." In: UNDP, Drylands, Wetlands, Croplands: Turning Liabilities into Assets. New Delhi.

Tata Energy Research Institute. 1989. Long-term Energy Scenario for India: Using the STAIR Model. New Delhi.

- 1991. Environmental Considerations in Energy Development. Report submitted to Asian Development Bank, Manila.

Vitousek, P. M., et al. 1986. "Human Appropriation of the Products of Photosynthesis." BioScience 34, no. 6.

World Commission on Environment and Development. 1987. Our Common Future. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

5. Evolution, sustainability, and inclustrial metabolism

Peter M. Allen


Today many people realize and fear the possible impacts that past, current, and future industrial activities and technologies may have on the natural systems in which they are embedded.) Anthropogenic causes seem to be the main factor in widespread erosion and soil degradation, river, lake and oceanic pollution, the production of acid rain, and threats to groundwater quality through nitrate and pesticide leaching from farming and from the burying and dumping of toxic and radioactive wastes. The rate of extinction of numerous plant and animal species seems still to be accelerating and there is some consensus on the view that the increased levels of CO2 resulting from man's activities may be causing drastic climatic change.

And all this is occurring as a result of the kind of economic growth that has characterized the West, and which by and large is the goal of most developing countries. It seems, therefore, that some major rethinking is required if industrialization is to occur throughout the world (Clark and Munn, 1986). Somehow, we must find ways of reducing the impacts of human activities on the environment, but of still maintaining and improving the quality of life, which is, after all, the avowed principal aim of development.

This book is part of this attempted rethinking. The title, Industrial Metabolism: Restructuring for Sustainable Development, suggests the important process-based vision of industry as part of an ecological structure. Traditionally, the view has been that industry takes high-grade resources and uses energy to transform them into products for human utilization, with of course some waste and pollution going into the "environment." However, this simple, traditional view is not sustainable. In reality, not only is one man's environment another man's system, but the global environment itself is being modified by the accumulation and build-up of wastes. The only sustainable systems that we so far know of are those which nature has evolved and which we call natural ecosystems. The crux of this chapter is, therefore, an examination of the underlying organizational principle of ecological structure.

As we shall see, this is related to the workings of the evolutionary process, and from this discussion we shall establish what is meant by sustainability in natural systems, and what the lessons of this are for mankind. In particular, it will be shown why the issues of adaptability and diversity are fundamental. Another critical idea that arises concerns the basic choice between the spatial dispersion of pollutants and wastes or their concentration. Again, the comparison with natural evolution will be made and the importance of recycling stressed.

In this chapter we trace the roots of our present environmental problems to the underlying concepts of traditional science. Its basic reductionist perspective is inappropriate for understanding the emergence and evolution of living systems, and has, therefore, tended to alienate us from nature. Next, a new perspective concerning evolutionary, open systems, which provides a deeper conceptual framework than the "mechanical system" for our understanding of the human condition, is set out. This new, evolutionary view shifts our focus from that of "maximized" exploitation to that of the maintenance of adaptability and diversity, and of framing legislation and policies to this end. It also provides a new basis for decision support tools, which help to explore possible futures, including the responses of the natural and human systems affected.

The new ideas explored here also concern the manner in which collective structure and conditions are affected by individual decision-making and values, and how in turn these are fashioned by evolution. Clearly, new issues of equity and responsibility arise between the aspirations of individuals, nations, and the global community. These are, of course, perennial problems that have always been present in social systems. How should the conflict between the rights and the responsibilities of individuals be resolved? There is no simple answer to this, nor any objective basis on which to formulate one. What must be worked out is a complicated compromise between the developed and the developing nations, such that the global situation is taken into account and given sufficient importance, that the future of the planet is not sacrificed by the selfish actions of its separate parts. As set out theoretically in the Brundtland Report, sustainability must be the aim for each region. But, as we shall see, the concept of sustainability is a complex one, and will require a change not only in environmental regulations but in the underlying values of our socio-economic systems.

The problem is urgent since levels of destruction of ecosystems and the exploitation of raw materials have reached record levels, reducing the biological potential and the capacity to sustain humans over large geographical areas. Anthropogenically modified ecological systems seem increasingly vulnerable and quite clearly unsustainable, with a strong possibility that as the intensity of exploitation of the remaining raw materials and areas of fertile land increases, so in turn the destruction of these will accelerate, leading to a potentially catastrophie runaway process.

These issues pose a tremendous challenge to us all. We must find ways of achieving a high quality of life using new approaches and technologies which do not lead to the irreversible consumption or destruction of their own input factors. In short, we must move away from a "slash-and-burn"" mentality to some greater vision of "cultivation."

The issue can no longer be avoided by simply talking about the need to limit population growth in developing countries, or by hoping that market prices reflecting progressive destruction will finally lead to some miraculous, technological response. Neither can we necessarily afford to wait for absolute scientific proof of the precise chains of causality that are involved. Wisdom is not identical to science. Instead it is related to how you choose to use the limited knowledge you have, and is clearly a mixture of caution and adventure.

Technical progress and reductionism

The first issue that it is important to reflect on is the underlying reason why the application of scientific knowledge to solve problems - the traditional view of technology - must inevitably create other problems in the process. The ultimate reason is the adoption of reductionist views and values in traditional science. This becomes clear if we consider carefully the proposition that before any deliberate action may be taken, it must be shown that the expected consequences will be good for the universe the ultimate precautionary principle. Now, this would appear to outlaw any action at all, since one could not even define what "good" meant for the universe, let alone prove that good would follow from an action. But, if the "universe" is too large a sphere of evaluation, what is the right one? How do we justify our actions? What are the values that drive "improvements" in technology?

The answer is that we reduce the "system" we are considering until it can be interpreted as a mechanism. It has inputs, outputs, and some working parts. Within this narrow view, simple values can then be brought to bear on the problem. The mechanism can be said to "do something," that is, to transform inputs into outputs. We can then judge whether by some modification this "job" could be done more quickly, more cheaply, with less labour, less skill, fewer raw materials, etc. And so, technological progress leads to local, partial improvements of the system, based on narrow values and the roles and job descriptions of people within that system.

But, of course, the comfort obtained through wearing mental blinkers may be quite false. This is because only a small part of the whole system has been considered, and an individual with a particular role has used his own values to justify his action. In general the costs of any such action will necessarily be pushed out beyond whatever boundary marked the actor's concern. Inevitably, there will as a consequence be changes to and impacts on whatever was not included in the actor's evaluation, though it is in reality connected to his system. These could either be viewed as "unintended consequences" of his actions, or, perhaps more correctly, as "part of their consequences," and ones which follow naturally from his limited frame of reference.

In other words, many environmental problems are simply a necessary consequence of the myopic vision inherent in the roles that our system has allowed to evolve. That this has happened is, of course, partly due to their apparent short-term "effectiveness." Our system has evolved value systems and processes that not only degrade the environment but make it difficult for actors to do otherwise.

Such a laissez-faire attitude might possibly be justified if it could be shown that the continual improvement of the subsystems of a system would lead necessarily to an improvement of the whole system. This is the view put forward by Adam Smith, and clung to by most classical and neoclassical economists, whereby the separate pursuit of wealth by individuals is said to result in gain for the whole through the working of the "invisible hand." However, as we begin better to understand the behaviour and evolution of complex systems, this seems incredibly naive, or at best overoptimistic. It is just part of the ideology underlying Western economic thinking, and is, in reality, a myth.

However, such ideas are deeply rooted in the scientific rationality that has driven our thinking over the last few centuries. This is based on the view that understanding is arrived at by the study of how a particular set of mechanisms functions. And this merely requires analysis, which goes deeper and deeper into the underlying components of the system, creating disciplines and domains of expertise as it goes. Not only is reductionism the basis of traditional science, but it is also the basis of scientific credibility.

But if we are to deal successfully with the real world, the problem remains: What is the explanation of a particular system? Why is it as it is? And this is not at all the same question as: "How does it function?" The two questions only converge for isolated systems, or for systems that have reached an equilibrium with their environments. Prediction for such systems was remarkable, and this traditional scientific knowledge was used in the development of machines which characterized this new and powerful thing called technology.

But living systems are open to flows of energy, matter, and information. Living cells, organisms, people, populations, cities, and socio-economic and socio-technical systems are all open. That is why, as a metaphor, the "industrial metabolism" is more appropriate than the industrial machine.

The material realization and maintenance of such systems requires flows of energy and matter across the boundaries of whatever set of variables it is proposed to consider. Thus, the reductionist view which sees explanation in terms of functional mechanism is an incomplete description from which change, adaptation, and evolution are necessarily excluded. The initial (unnatural) interpretation of sustainable development, based on this false analogy, has been that of seeking a state of "maximum sustainable yield" for an exploited natural system, as if it were a "machine" that could be pushed to the limit, neglecting the adaptive responses that such evolved systems will have, and discounting the future according to the dictate of current interest rates.

In order to understand better the concept of sustainability, we must first show clearly the shortcomings of the mechanical vision characteristic of traditional science. Then, based on the manner in which evolutionary systems structure and organize themselves in nature, we can establish a new conceptual framework for the discussion.

The mechanical paradigm

The basis of scientific understanding has traditionally been the mechanical model (Prigogine and Stengers, 1987; Allen, 1985, 1988). In this view, the behaviour of a system could be understood, and anticipated, by classifying and identifying its components and the causal links, or mechanisms, that act between them. In physical systems, the fundamental laws of nature such as the conservation of mass, momentum, and energy govern these mechanisms, and determine entirely what must happen. This was such a triumph for classical science, that it was believed (erroneously) that analogous ideas must apply in the domains of biology, ecology, the human sciences, and particularly, of course, economics (Arrow and Debreu, 1954). It is exactly this vision that underlies Adam Smith's idea of an "invisible hand" working collective improvement through the self-seeking behaviour of individuals.

But in such a vision the problem of change remains unsolved. If we study a system over time, we find that its structure changes. Any system developed at a given time somehow transforms itself over time. In order to anticipate the changes that will occur in the system we must try to understand how this creative self-transformation can possibly occur. Obviously, it is not contained in the set of mechanical equations that characterize the system at any one time. It is clearly beyond the behaviour of a closed system.

In human systems what happens depends very strongly on what decisions are taken. Although, of course, the natural laws always work, they no longer suffice to determine what must occur. Systems open to flows of energy and matter can attain varying degrees of autonomy, where it is the interplay of nonlinear interactions that decide how the system structures and evolves.

In the traditional scientific view, the future of a system is predicted from the mathematical equations which govern the "motion" of its components. But in order to write down the equations of motion for a real system it is always necessary to make approximations. The assumption that must be made is that the elements making up the variables (molecules in a structure, individuals within a population, firms in a sector, etc.) are all identically that of the average type. In this case, the model reduces to a "machine" which represents the system in terms of a set of differential (perhaps non-linear) equations which govern its variables.

Fig. 1 At any different time we may analyse the components and functioning of the system, but this remains fixed while reality changes

This shows us the paradox underlying the scientific approach. At any given time, we can always analyse a system, and imagine that we have "understood" its structure and constituent mechanisms. From this, we may feel that we can even make predictions, and use it as a base for our policies and actions. However, the very act of formulating the structure as a set of mechanisms actually excludes the non-average individual microdiversity, which will be responsible for structural change and the qualitative evolution of the system.

In other words, the elements that will lead to invention and innovation are precisely what is excluded from the traditional scientific description of an economic or even an ecological system. The interactions of economic sectors, described through input-output relations, are comparable to the interacting population dynamics of an ecosystem, but neither contain the mechanisms of their own selftransformation. This is the paradox: in order to know the future, we use an analytic tool that throws away the factors that are important in creating that future.

The attraction of rational analysis is strong, and the scientific reader will certainly be using it in order to assimilate this paragraph and chapter, but clarity is bought at the expense of vital details, and it is the dialogue between the apparent structure and the deviations from it that provides the power of self-transformation and emergence in systems. The Newtonian vision of the world as a collection of "clockwork mechanisms" that can be laid out and examined is fine for the actual machines that humans produce, but is an inadequate representation of the world in which these are embedded. Real systems are in fact coupled in a multiplicity of ways with factors in their environment, through flows of matter, energy, and information, and although in vitro experiments can be useful in understanding some simple physical systems, the essential behaviour of ecosystems arises in vivo, through the visible and invisible dialogue with their environment. It is this science-inspired tendency to separate the "inside" of a system from its "outside" that is at the root of environmental problems.

Equally, it is this separation of inside from out, together with the mechanical description, that has produced a methodology in technology and engineering which is often characterized by "optimized" solutions under fixed conditions. But this fails to allow for the fact that information flows, learning, and change are all taking place and that in the real world the inside is co-evolving with the outside.

From the discussion we see that evolutionary change must result from what has been removed in the reduction to the deterministic description, that is, the non-average. Systems evolve through the interplay of two kinds of terms. First there are deterministic average mechanisms operating between typical components, whose identity and nature are revealed by rational, scientific analysis. Second, however, there is what has been suppressed in the rational picture, the non-average behaviour and detail which probes the stability of the existing structure and on occasions can be amplified and lead to qualitative structural changes and a reorganization of the average mechanisms.


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