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Research Article: “Circularity, entropy, ecological conflicts and LFFU”

By Joan Martinez-Alier (ICTA-UAB)

Recently published research article – Available at Taylor & Francis Online


The economy is not circular, it is increasingly entropic. Energy from the photosynthesis of the distant past, fossil fuels, is burned and dissipated. Even without further economic growth the industrial economy would need new supplies of energy and materials extracted from the “commodity frontiers”, producing also more waste (including excessive amounts of greenhouse gases). Therefore, new ecological distribution conflicts (EDC) arise all the time. Such EDCs are often “valuation contests” displaying incommensurable plural values. Examples from the Atlas of Environmental Justice are given of coal, oil and gas-related conflicts in several countries combining local and global complaints. Claims for climate justice and recognition of an ecological debt have been put forward by environmentalists from the South since 1991, together with a strategy of leaving fossil fuels underground (LFFU) through bottom-up movements. This could make a substantial contribution to the decrease in carbon dioxide emissions.

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