In the past Matthias Ruth has collaborated on articles with Malte Faber and Bruce Hannon. One of their most recent publications is PaperTechnology change in US iron and steel production: Implications for material and energy use, and CO2 emissions. Which was published in journal Resources Policy.

More information about Matthias Ruth research including statistics on their citations can be found on their Copernicus Academic profile page.

Matthias Ruth's Articles: (12)

PaperTechnology change in US iron and steel production: Implications for material and energy use, and CO2 emissions

AbstractRecent calls for sustainable practices in industry have highlighted the need to assess the interrelationships between changes in industrial material and energy use, availability and quality of material and energy sources, and emissions. This study provides such an assessment for the US iron and steel industry. It quantifies these relationships using econometric time series analysis of aggregate industry behaviour. The econometric estimates, together with engineering information on production technologies, are embedded in a dynamic computer model and used to simulate material and energy use and emissions profiles for the period 1987–2027. The results indicate that even modest increases in raw steel production rates require unrealistically high rates of iron and steel recycling to reduce energy use and emissions in the long run, even if the historically observed rates of technological substitution and efficiency improvements can be maintained.

Economy-environment interactions in the long-run: a neo-Austrian approach

AbstractThis paper describes a neo-Austrian approach to the long-run interactions between invention, innovation and technical progress on the one hand, and resource use and pollution on the other. This approach is used to construct a formal model which simulates output, capital accumulation, pollution emission, pollution abatement, etc., for a simple model economy. We begin by reviewing the role and conceptualisation of time in economic modelling. We then move on to outline neo-Austrian capital theory as an alternative to the conventional approach. We note the implications of the neo-Austrian approach for modelling resource use and pollution, and a simulation model is constructed embodying the neo-Austrian approach to the time structure of production. The two possible ways the model can be interpreted are then explored. Results from the simulation model are presented and assessed. Finally, plans for future work with this approach are described.

A physical view of sustainability

AbstractWe assume that natural ecological communities tend to maximize the amount of stored biomass on a given area, thereby creating the highest sustainable rate of entropy formation possible from that area. We take this climax condition to define sustainability. Human intervention, through agriculture, reduced the ecosystem in given areas to a juvenile state, a state which seems to produce entropy at a lower rate than that of the natural climax condition. The gap in entropy production rates between the natural and the agricultural system would eventually be overcome by the direct and indirect use of fossil fuels. These fossil fuels are consumed much faster than they are being formed and, therefore, a social structure based on their extensive use cannot be sustainable. What type of social structure does meet our definition of sustainability? That is, what style and size of social activity will generate entropy at a rate no greater than that of the climax ecosystem in a particular area?During the last two decades, studies of economic activities and their environmental repercussions were limited to the possible costs and benefits of pollution control and to the economically optimal extraction rates of mineral resources. The intrusion of human activities into the environment became increasingly apparent through the depletion of natural resource stocks and decreasing environmental quality. In the 1990s, sustainability of the socio-economic system within the global ecosystem has become the pressing issue. Although research is increasingly concerned with the question of sustainability, a definition based on physically measurable evidence is missing. Such a definition is proposed in this paper and an example application is given for a particular area.

AnalysisInformation, order and knowledge in economic and ecological systems: implications for material and energy use

AbstractEcological and economic systems are open systems that require energy to change the thermodynamic states of materials from naturally occurring to more valued forms. These changes are accompanied by information flows and changes in the order of systems and their surroundings. In this paper, thermodynamics is used to assess these system changes and relate them to the knowledge present in a system. Particular emphasis is given to (1) the fundamental relationships among material, energy and information flows, and changes in order and knowledge, (2) the role of equilibrium and non-equilibrium thermodynamics in assessing system change, (3) the increasing role of material and energy flows through economic systems, and (4) the necessity for improved societal valuation of these flows.

Livability for all? Conceptual limits and practical implications☆

Highlights•There is a dearth of theoretically grounded models to assist decision makers.•Urban systems must be flexible to adjust to unforeseeable future conditions.•Sustained livability benefits require “back-up systems” and other redundancies.•The effects of diversity can be positive or negative where livability is concerned.

An industrial ecology of the US glass industry

AbstractThe US glass industry produces a wide variety of products for industrial and end use purposes. Towards that end, large amounts of raw materials are extracted and used, energy is degraded and pollutants are generated and released into the environment. The industry has long recognized its influence on material cycles and energy flows through the economy-environment system. It is now in the process of adopting a systems perspective to tackle the problems associated with its material and energy use. To operationalize that systems perspective a dynamic computer model of the container, flat and fiberglass sectors of the industry is developed on the basis of time series data, engineering information and insights from industry experts. The model includes the extraction stage of the main raw materials, transportation of raw materials and discarded products — both back to producers and to ladfills — and the various manufacturing processes of the desired products. On the basis of the model, material and energy use and CO2 emissions profiles for the years 1988–2028 are quantified under a variety of scenarios on production rates, technology change and recycling.

The Mexican energy sector: integrated dynamic analysis of the natural gas/refining system

AbstractEnvironmental regulations in Mexico could dramatically increase demand for natural gas in the following years. This increase could lead to gas price shocks and a counter-intuitive increase in carbon emissions. The effect would be accentuated if Mexico lacks the funds required to carry on with investments in gas development and processing capacity. With the use of a dynamic computer model, this study addresses responses of the Mexican oil and gas industries to perturbations such as: changes in regulatory and environmental policies; changes in institutional arrangements such as those arising from market liberalization; and lack of availability of investment funds. The study also assesses how regulatory policies can be designed to minimize the economic inefficiencies arising from the business cycle disruptions that some perturbations may cause. In addition, this study investigates how investment responses will shape the Mexican energy sector in the future, particularly with respect to both the relative importance of different fuels for power generation and heating purposes and the nature of competition in the Mexican natural gas market. Furthermore, this study explores the direct consequences of these responses on the level of carbon emissions.

AnalysisA quest for the economics of sustainability and the sustainability of economics

AbstractThis paper briefly reviews key insights from natural resource and environmental economics, ecological economics and industrial ecology in an effort to identify the major contributions of these fields to the understanding and promotion of sustainable development. Each is based on overlapping worldviews, methods and tools. Their synthesis and extension–subsumed under the rubric of ‘Natural Economics’–is suggested as a new thrust in environmental research, offering valuable guides to policy making. An early illustration of the application of natural economics in New Zealand is presented.

AnalysisRelocation or reallocation: Impacts of differentiated energy saving regulation on manufacturing industries in China

Highlights•Technical change and factor reallocation may offset a pollution haven effect.•China's policy caused temporary, industry-wide loss of output and productivity.•Energy-intensive sectors passed on their compliance cost to other sectors.•Energy-intensive sectors became more capital-intensive and competitive.•Total impacts are factor reallocation but no significant relocation of production.

Capital vintage and climate change policies: the case of US pulp and paper

AbstractThe climate change policy debate and ensuing discussions about industrial energy use and carbon emissions have highlighted the need to: (a) aggregate engineering information to a level relevant for economic policy analysis while maintaining sufficient detail so that results are meaningful for industry decision makers, (b) properly represent an industry’s capital vintage structure to better understand inertia associated with changes in aggregate industrial emissions profiles, and (c) identify policy instruments that leverage an industry’s potential for technological change such that carbon emissions can be noticeably reduced. This paper presents an econometric analysis of energy use and emissions profiles of the US Pulp and Paper Industry and uses the resulting set of equations to specify a dynamic model for the analysis of select climate change policies. Scenarios of cost of carbon, energy tax, and investment-led policies indicate that a combination of cost of carbon and investment-led policies can achieve the desired result of rapidly improving overall efficiency of the industry and promoting changes in fuel mix, which together can result in drastic reductions of carbon emissions.

Social and economic impacts of climate change on the urban environment

Urban areas have unique characteristics that render their residents and assets particularly vulnerable to climate change. Many large urban centers are located along coasts or in low-lying areas around the mouths of major rivers, placing economic capital and human populations at risk of climate-related hazards including sea level rise and flooding from severe precipitation. Recent literature illustrates the economic and social challenges facing cities around the world as a result of climate change including energy shortages, damaged infrastructure, increasing losses to industry, heat-related mortality and illness, and scarcity of food and water. These challenges are interrelated. Economic losses make it difficult for residents to maintain their livelihoods and can therefore exacerbate social issues including poverty and hunger. At the same time, some demographic and socioeconomic characteristics of cities can make them especially vulnerable to climate change impacts. This paper reviews current literature on these issues and identifies future research needed to more fully understand climate change in the urban context.

Urban climate science, planning, policy and investment challenges

AbstractThe majority of the world’s population is now living in urban areas, which together represent <1% of the Earth’s surface. As populations and their assets continue to accumulate in urban areas, as their role in shaping local, regional and global economic and environmental processes continues to increase, and as climate change and other challenges continue to place people, infrastructures, institutions and ecosystems at risk, more attention needs to be given to the diverse processes that determine quality of life in urban areas.Climate conditions play a particular role in this context not just because climate change poses new challenges for urban areas but also because urban areas can play a lead role in humanity’s quest for a relationship with the natural environment that allows societies to prosper and flourish for a long time to come. Urban climate, as a topic of multidisciplinary research and focus for decision-making, subsumes many of these challenges. Urban Climate, as a new journal, provides a forum to share novel data, models, analyses results, and insights at the forefront of research and decision-making. Being able to assist in that knowledge sharing and knowledge generation will be, no doubt, a great opportunity for the scientific community, planners and decision makers alike.

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