El medio ambiente de la economía

Ninguna economía es un universo autónomo y cerrado, regido por reglas independientes de la ley, la moral y la política. De hecho, las preguntas económicas más interesantes generalmente se encuentran en la frontera con disciplinas cercanas. Sin embargo, en ningún ámbito es esto más claro que en la interacción entre procesos económicos y el ambiente natural.

La característica distintiva de esta interrelación es que está regida no por las leyes de la mecánica, sino por la termodinámica, en particular la ley de la entropía, según el cual la cantidad de energía libre que se puede transformar en trabajo mecánico disminuye con el tiempo, en un proceso irreversible que culmina en la "muerte del calor". Numerosos investigadores, inspirados por los últimos trabajos pioneros de Nicholas Georgescu-Roegen sobre la relación entre los procesos económicos y la física, intentaron –sin mucho éxito- formular una teoría "entrópica" de la economía y la sociedad, especialmente en la década de 1970.

El punto de vista entrópico supone que los procesos económicos producen consecuencias irreversibles debido a sus múltiples interacciones con la naturaleza. Explotamos yacimientos de recursos naturales no renovables (por ejemplo, petróleo y metales) y deterioramos o modificamos la calidad de otros recursos (por ejemplo, el agua y la tierra arable), imponiéndoles un ritmo de explotación superior a su capacidad de regeneración. De hecho, la explotación de los recursos no renovables desvincula la velocidad del crecimiento económico de la de la renovación ecológica, agravando el deterioro de la biósfera, lo que incluye cambios climáticos irreversibles.

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