From resource extraction to outflows of wastes and emissions: The socioeconomic metabolism of the global economy, 1900–2015

The size and structure of the socioeconomic metabolism are key for the planet’s sustainability. In this article, we provide a consistent assessment of the development of material flows through the global economy in the period 1900–2015 using material flow accounting in combination with results from dynamic stock-flow modelling. Based on this approach, we can trace materials from extraction to their use, their accumulation in in-use stocks and finally to outflows of wastes and emissions and provide a comprehensive picture of the evolution of societies metabolism during global industrialization. This enables outlooks on inflows and outflows, which environmental policy makers require for pursuing strategies towards a more sustainable resource use.

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