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Robert U Ayres (1999)

The second law, the fourth law, recycling and limits to growth

Ecological Economics, 29(3):473 - 483.

Despite counter examples in nature, it has been argued that total recycling is impossible for an industrial society as a consequence of the second law of thermodynamics. In this paper it is shown that there is no such limitation. However, it is also shown that there must be a large stockpile of inactive materials as well as an exogenous source of exergy (e.g. from the sun) for a stable steady-state recycling system to function. The paper also discusses (briefly) some of the implications for economic growth.

Fourth Law

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