Robert Ayres (scientist)
Robert Underwood Ayres (born June 29, 1932) is an American-born physicist and economist. His career has focused on the application of physical ideas, especially the laws of thermodynamics, to economics; a long-standing pioneering interest in material flows and transformations (industrial ecology or industrial metabolism) - a concept which he originated. His most recent work challenges the widely held economic theory of growth.
Trained as a physicist at the University of Chicago, University of Maryland, and King's College London (PhD in Mathematical Physics), Ayres has dedicated his entire professional life to advancing the environment, technology and resource end of the sustainability agenda. His major research interests include technological change, environmental economics, "industrial metabolism" and "eco-restructuring". He has worked at the Hudson Institute (1962–67), Resources for the Future Inc (1968) and International Research and Technology Corp (1969–76). From 1979 until 1992 he was Professor of Engineering and Public Policy at Carnegie-Mellon University, Pittsburgh, PA, except for two years (and six summers) on leave at the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) in Laxenburg Austria. In 1992 he moved to the international business school INSEAD in Fontainebleau, France as Sandoz (later Novartis) Professor of Environment and Management. Since his formal retirement in 2000 he has been Jubilee Visiting Professor (2000–2001)and king Karl Gustav XVII professor of environmental science (2004–2005) at Chalmers Institute of Technology Gothenburg (Sweden). He is currently an Institute Scholar at IIASA.
He remains an active researcher. He has written or co-authored 17 books, edited or coedited another dozen books, written or co-authored more than 200 journal articles and book chapters not to mention many unpublished reports, on subjects ranging from environmental effects of nuclear war to theoretical economics. But most of his life-work is interdisciplinary. He was a pioneer of a new field, sometimes called Industrial Metabolism or Industrial Ecology. He has contributed to futures studies, technological forecasting, transportation and energy studies, material flow studies (`dematerialization'),environmental technology, environmental economics, thermodynamics and economics, and the theory of economic growth.
Here taken from one of his books Turning Point: The End of the Growth Paradigm (London: Earthscan, 1998) is a clue to his thinking:
- There is a potential for confusion here between technological progress and "progress" in the more general, even more undefined sense. Along with many others, I have long tended carelessly to equate economic growth with that kind of undefined progress. Though aware of the difference, I nevertheless assumed for convenience that the one is virtually a surrogate for the other. The time has come to try to sort out this confusion.
- In a certain simplistic sense the difference between growth and progress is all too obvious: It is the difference between "more" and "better". In challenging the growth paradigm itself I am not assuming that growth necessarily means "more" physical goods. Far from it, I insist that the true measure of economic output is not the quantity of goods produced, but the quality and value of final services provided to the consumer. What is most wrong about the "growth syndrome" is not its tendency to consume material resources (as Barry Commoner, for instance, assumed). What is wrong with it is that growth of the kind now occurring in the US and Europe is no longer making people happier or improving their real standard of living.
- It is possible to have economic growth - in the sense of providing better and more valuable services to ultimate consumers - without necessarily consuming more physical resources. This follows from the fact that consumers are ultimately not interested in goods per se but in the services those goods can provide. The possibility of de-linking economic activity from energy and materials ("dematerialization") has been one of the major themes of my professional career.
- Kneese, Allen V; Ayres, Robert U; D'Arge, Ralph C (1970), Economics and the Environment: A Materials Balance Approach, Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Press
- Ayres, Robert U (1979), Uncertain Futures: Challenges for Decision-makers, Wiley
- Ayres, Robert U; Miller, Steven M (1983), Robotics: Applications and Social Implications, Ballinger Publishing Co
- Ayres, Robert U (1984), The Next Industrial Revolution: Reviving Industry Through Innovation, Ballinger Publishing Co
- Ayres, Robert U (January 1988), Self-organization in Biology and Economics, Luxenburg, Austria: International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis, retrieved 23 November 2010
- Ayres, Robert U; Walter, Jörg (July 1991), The Greenhouse Effect: Damages, Costs, and Abatement, Laxenburg, Austria: International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis, ISBN 3-7045-0108-5, retrieved 22 November 2010
- Ayres, Robert U (February 1, 1992), "Toxic heavy metals: materials cycle optimization", Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 89 (3): 815–820, Bibcode:1992PNAS...89..815A, doi:10.1073/pnas.89.3.815, retrieved 23 November 2010
- Ayres, Robert U; Dobrinsky, R; Haywood, W; Uno, K; Zuscovitch, E (1992), Computer Integrated Manufacturing: Economic and Social Impacts, Chapman and Hall
- Ayres, Robert U (1994), Information, Entropy and Progress: A New Evolutionary Paradigm, Woodbury, New York: American Institute of Physics, ISBN 0-88318-911-9, retrieved 22 November 2010
- Ayres, Robert U; Simonis, Udo E, eds. (1994), Industrial Metabolism: Restructuring for Sustainable Development, Tokyo & New York: United Nations University Press, ISBN 92-808-0841-9, retrieved 23 November 2010
- Ayres, Robert U (November 1997), "Metals recycling: economic and environmental implications", Resources, Conservation and Recycling 21 (3): 145–173, doi:10.1016/S0921-3449(97)00033-5, retrieved 23 November 2010
- Ayres, Robert U; Weaver, Paul M, eds. (1998), Eco-restructuring: Implications for Sustainable Development, Tokyo, New York & Paris: United Nations University Press, ISBN 92-808-0984-9, retrieved 22 November 2010
- Ayres, Robert U (May 1998), "The Second Law, The Fourth Law, Recycling and Limits to Growth", INSEAD Working paper (INSEAD's Centre for the Management of Environmental Resources), retrieved 23 November 2010
- . (1999), Turning Point: An end to the Growth Paradigm, London: Earthscan Publications, ISBN 1-85383-444-0, retrieved 22 November 2010 Paperback ISBN 1-85383-439-4
- Ayres, Robert U; Ayres, Leslie W (1999), Accounting for Resources, 2: The Life Cycle of Materials, Cheltenham, UK & Northampton, Massachusetts: Edward Elgar Publishing, ISBN 1-85898-923-X, retrieved 22 November 2010
- Ayres, Robert U; Ayres, Leslie W, eds. (2002), A Handbook of Industrial Ecology, Cheltenham, UK & Northampton, Massachusetts: Edward Elgar Publishing, ISBN 1-84064-506-7, retrieved 22 November 2010
- Ayres, Rober U; Ayres, Leslie W; Warr, Benjamin (2002), "Exergy, Power and Work in the US Economy, 1900-1998", Working paper (INSEAD's Center for the Management of Environmental Resources (CMER)), retrieved 22 November 2010
- Williams, Eric D; Ayres, Robert U; Heller, Miriam (2002), "The 1.7 Kilogram Microchip: Energy and Material Use in the Production of Semiconductor Devices", Environmental Science & Technology 36 (24): 5504–5510, Bibcode:2002EnST...36.5504W, doi:10.1021/es025643o, retrieved 22 November 2010
- Ayres, Robert U; Ayres, Leslie W; Råde, Ingrid (2003), The Life Cycle of Copper, Its Co=Products and Byproducts, Eco-Efficiency in Industry and Science series, Dordrecht, The Netherlands: Kluwer Academic Publishers, ISBN 1-4020-1552-6, retrieved 22 November 2010
- Cleveland, Cutler J; Ayres, Robert U (2004), Encyclopedia of Energy, Volume 1, Elsevier Academic Press
- Simpson, R. David; Toman, Michael A; Ayres, Robert U, eds. (2005), Scarcity and Growth Revisited: Natural Resources and the Environment in the New Millennium, ISBN 1-933115-10-6, retrieved 22 November 2010 Paperback ISBN 1-933115-11-4
- Ayres, Robert U; Martinás, Katalin (2005), On the Reappraisal of Microeconomics: Economic Growth and Change in a Material World, Cheltenham, UK & Northampton, Massachusetts: Edward Elgar Publishing, ISBN 1-84542-272-4, retrieved 22 November 2010
- Ayres, Robert U; Warr, Benjamin (2005), "Accounting for growth: the role of physical work", Structural Change and Economic Dynamics 16: 181–209, doi:10.1016/j.strueco.2003.10.003, retrieved 23 November 2010
- von Gleich, Arnim; Ayres, Robert U; Gössling-Reisemann, Stefan, eds. (2006), Sustainable Metals Management: Securing Our Future - Steps Towards a Closed Loop Economy, Eco-Efficiency in Industry and Science series, Dordrecht, The Netherlands: Springer, ISBN 1-4020-4007-5, retrieved 22 November 2010 Alternative ISBNs: (1) Hardcover ISBN 978-1-4020-4007-8 (2) e-book ISBN 978-1-4020-4539-4
- Ayres, Robert U (3 December 2009), "Industrial Energy Efficiency Pays - Why isn‘t it Happening?", Presentation given Fall Semester 2009 (Energy Science Center), retrieved 23 November 2010 See Ayres' Curriculum Vitae on this site at external links below
- Ayres, Robert U; Warr, Benjamin (2009), The Economic Growth Engine: How Energy and Work Drive Material Prosperity, Cheltenham, UK & Northampton, Massachusetts: Edward Elgar Publishing, ISBN 978-1-84844-182-8, retrieved 22 November 2010
- Ayres, Robert U; Ayres, Edward H (2010), Crossing the Energy Divide: Moving from Fossil Fuel Dependence to a Clean-Energy Future, New Jersey: Wharton School Publishing, ISBN 0-13-701544-5, retrieved 22 November 2010 Alternative ISBN 978-0-13-701544-3
- "Who's who in the World - Marquis Who's Who, LLC". Books.google.ca. Retrieved 2013-08-19.
- Ayres, Robert U; Ayres, Edward H (2010), "Brief biography of Robert U Ayres", Crossing the Energy Divide: Moving from Fossil Fuel Dependence to a Clean-Energy Future, New Jersey: Wharton School Publishing, p. xi, ISBN 0-13-701544-5, retrieved 23 November 2010 Alternative ISBN 978-0-13-701544-3
- "insead - faculty & research - Robert U. Ayres". Insead.edu. 2002-01-01. Retrieved 2013-08-19.
- Ayres, Robert U (1999), "...potential for confusion...", Turning Point: An end to the Growth Paradigm, London: Earthscan Publications, ISBN 1-85383-444-0, retrieved 22 November 2010 Paperback ISBN 1-85383-439-4
- Profile at EcoPlan International
- Profile at INSEAD
- Curriculum Vitae at Energy Science Center from Fall Semester 2009 presentation.