The idea for Bioeconomics has been with me for a long time; all of twenty years though it may seem strange. The attempt to bring about a synthesis of biology and economics in the new discipline of Bioeconomics (Biological Economics) was made in an article in 1980 in Iran. However, due to the events occurring in my country, the closure of universities and a complete disorganisation of academic life combined with the war and the responsibility of looking after my family abroad pushed the idea further and further back in my mind. For many years I have had to travel back and forth in order to stay in touch with my university and I have greatly missed an intellectual forum where Bioeconomics could be developed. It has been a very frustrating period of my life. I have had to watch helplessly how some of my original ideas, germinated some years earlier, have already seen the light of the day and have been published. But: c’est la vie!
The great dilemma of humankind stems from its search for accommodation and reconciliation between what it thinks is best for itself as a gredy species and what it thinks intuitively to be best for all; that is the environment, other creatures and of course its own species. The fact that there seems to be permanent conflict between our wish as what we ought to do and the reality of what we are obliged to do may however, not be such a bad thing after all.
Exactly because of this «exquisite tension» we are obliged to seek accommodation between self-interest with community spirit and competition with co-operation; the eternal yin-yang of existence. It is my strong belief that it is time for the latter to take precedence over the latter as «to everything there is a season.»
The idea for this book has had its impetus in my belief that the other economy-environment disciplines concerned with the importance of biological resources and the environment are not really tackling the great problems facing humankind. Humanity is confronted with great problems and even greater contradictions about what we believe and how we behave. These problems emanate from the economic-technological activity system impacting the biological system giving rise to a host of non-linear interactions. Bioeconomics is an attempt to understand these problems by clarifying their underlying interactions. It proposes a new approach to the solution of economy environment interface problems in the light of constraints imposed by the biospheric system upon the human activity system.
Bioeconomics moreover, makes possible the investigation of the environmental, socioeconomic and biological issues in an integrative and holistic manner. Bioeconomics is a paradigmatic shift in the evolution of the disciplines investigating the problems arising from the impact of the socioeconomic activity on the environment. Bioeconomics represents a fundamental change in our ideology as far as our socioeconomic, environmental, biological and ethical activities are concerned. It is an attempt to expand the discipline of economics to the mother of sciences, biology and to stop taking incremental steps towards that end. I think we should once and for all take the big step towards biology because as Robert Wright has said «Biology is the most broadly germane to the big questions about human existence.» In the third millennium humanity will be truly challenged by some very big questions.
Bioeconomics is not concerned with the artificial market equilibrium but rather with the real equilibrium between the socioeconomic and biological systems. This is to be achieved through symbiosis and coevolution of these systems from the points of view of reorganisation of the socioeconomic system, regeneration of the biological system and recycling. This nubbin of idea I propose under bioeconomics has as its backbone the excellent investigations carried out by scientists in the environment-economy disciplines. Many ideas discussed here originate from them.
The unifying themes in this book are holism, interdisciplinarity, cooperation and education, especially bioeconomic education. I am convinced that it has to be through education at all levels, both formal and informal, that humanity will finally have to embark on the resolution of the many complex interactive problems facing it. Furthermore, it will have to be through a comprehensive education policy that our wish for, and the imperative necessity of sustainable development will be fulfilled thus making possible the fruition of a sustainable society. However, the antiquated disciplinary methodology of teaching and investigation is not up to the task and a holistic interdisciplinary and participatory one is required. In this respect the importance of general literacy, adult education and an all-inclusive bioeconomic education encompassing the environment is evident.