Conceptual Foundations: Thermodynamics and Capital Theory

  • Horst Niemes
  • Mario Schirmer


Economic transformation processes, specifically the extraction of non-renewable natural resources for production and reproduction activities, are irreversible. The entropy notion of classic thermodynamics and its equivalent in information theory can be applied to derive the relations between free energy, useful work (exergy), unusable work (anergy) and changes in the concentrations of desired raw materials and undesired residuals that are being discharged into the natural environment. Capital theory is a corner stone in economic theory and ecological economics for analysing the dynamics of environmental and resource problems. It will be shown that information theory can be used to extend thermodynamics and allow an interpretation of capital theory that is consistent with the natural sciences.


Black Hole Capital Stock Irreversible Process Human Labour Welfare Level 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Helmholtz-Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ) LeipzigLeipzigGermany
  2. 2.Eawag: Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and TechnologyDübendorfSwitzerland

Personalised recommendations