The Invisible Hand, Trumped by Darwin? –

Posted by Jim:

Recently I’ve been reading books about markets and market economics, prompted, I guess, by the economic meltdown.  Included among these have been Michael Shermer’s book on evolutionary economics “The Mind of the Market” and “Fooled by Randomness” by Nassim Nicholas Taleb.

This article from NYT (link) is along the same lines – arguing that evolutionary theory is more useful in understanding markets and market dynamics than are the classical tools of “market” economics with all of their flawed assumptions, such as the assumption of the existence a “free market” itself.

So, where’s the stoichiometry you ask?  Well, another thing that economics ignores is the environment (treating it as an “externality”).  This is a very dangerous omission.  More recently I’ve been becoming interested in the possibility of “peak phosphorus”, the idea that easily mined sources of P are being rapidly depleted and that soon humanity will face a shortage of economically viable P supplies (link). The ultimate in P limitation!  In fact, I’ve recently met with Dr Mark Edwards (ASU Polytech) who has developed similar ideas.  He was featured in the Arizona Republic just yesterday, talking about algae-based biofuels.  We discussed the need for an entirely new field that integrates biogeochemistry with economics and proposed coining the term “biogeoeconomics”.


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