The Social Metabolism of European Industrialization: Changes in the Relation of Energy and Land Use from the Eighteenth to the Twentieth Century


In recent years, social (or, more narrowly, industrial) metabolism has become a prominent concept in sustainability science because many global sustainability problems are directly associated with humanity’s growing demand for raw materials and their transformation into wastes and emissions after processing and use. Industrialization involves a fundamental transformation of society’s metabolism and in particular of the energy system. This essay offers an historical sociometabolic perspective on the changing relationship between energy and land use during industrialization.