for the Environmental Protection Agency in the 21st Century, prepared by the World Resources Institute in Cooperation with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Document located at


The rapid globalization of the world's economy may ultimately make regions and cities more important than nations as centers of commerce and economic power. By the year 2000, there will be 19 cities with populations over 20 million people. For this reason, regional and urban economies impacting the flows of energy and materials may become more important as a unit of analysis than nations themselves.


Frosch (1996) discusses industrial and environmental history passing through similar phases from a state when "environmental impacts were generally regarded as external to the industry" to a state of greater internalization of effects when "manufacturing combines cost minimization with low or zero production of wastes."


Natural capital can include the biological and mineral resources of a country, such as water, forests, wetlands, protected ecosystems, air, soils, subsoil minerals, and all living resources. Commercial natural resources (such as fossil fuels and agricultural lands) are often excluded because they are normally addressed in annual economic accounts.


Early attempts to develop resource accounting methods within the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) were ended abruptly in the early 1980s after the publication of only one paper. Recently, BEA has begun a new program on natural resource accounting (Bureau of Economic Analysis, 1993). A prototype green GDP was unveiled by the U.S. Department of Commerce on Earth Day 1994.


A recent conference on urban metabolism in Kobe, Japan, addressed some of the strengths and limitations of the metabolic metaphor. Though the concept of metabolism focuses our attention on highly complex systems essential to life, it does not address the social, ethnic, linguistic, and class differences underlying our cultures and human values. As a metaphor it is essentially descriptive with little culturally relevant normative power (Ness, 1994).


The mappings of the U.S. Energy sector presented in this paper were developed by the following people: energy (David Bassett, U.S. Department of Energy), research and development expenditures (Michael Manning, EPA), and subsidies (Michael Brylawski, Stanford University).


Though this has yet to pose serious problems in the United States, use conflicts are already occurring in countries such as China where significant amounts of water are being diverted from irrigation to cool large, coal-fired power plants.


The flavor of this debate can be captured by looking at the following documents: the series of publications by the Carnegie Commission on Science, Technology and Government; the debate in the Harvard Business Review (1992) surrounding an article by Lewis Branscomb (1992) on whether America needs an industrial policy; and a 1992 report by the Office of Technology Assessment called "Technology and the American Economic Transition: Choices for the Future."


One of the best examples of a nongovernmental organization project looking for new paradigms is the 2050 Project being undertaken by the World Resources Institute, the Brookings Institution, and the Santa Fe Institute.


An unorthodox but often fruitful place to search for new paradigms is in utopian literature. Interestingly, visions of possible future worlds built on new social, political, and technological paradigms tend to proliferate every 50 to 60 years, during the stagnation phase of long-term Kondratieff cycles (Kiser and Kriss, 1987)


The United States lags behind a number of nations in investments in microdynamics systems research and development. Japan is presently spending $150 million to $200 million per year; the Netherlands, $100 million; Germany, $70 million to $100 million; and the United States, $15 million to $20 million (Brendley and Steeb, 1993).

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