Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


School of Mechanical, Materials, Mechatronics and Biomedical Engineering


Ever since the human race developed consciousness we have battled against the elements to bring about prosperity and health. For millennia we closely observed the natural phenomena that seemed to influence future outcomes, gradually building and refining our conceptions of reality, our mental models. We refined the process of observation and discovery with the scientific method, and from that point on our power to control our environment grew immensely. Now our greatest foe is not only Mother Nature, but ourselves. We still act impulsively, and make decisions which seem irrational. We may guiltily watch hour after hour of Antiques Road Show, instead of spending a mere 30 minutes finishing off the final thesis chapter. The tradition of model development is continued herein, with a focus on holistic socio- ecological models. The first part of this thesis examines the pre-existing Limits to Growth model, originally developed by Meadows et. al. in 1972. Uncertainty analysis was per- formed on this model to develop a better understanding of its reliability. This model is also used to better understand the trade-off relationships between common goals humans wish to achieve in the future. A genetic algorithm was used to determine the Pareto front of the seven examined goals. The final part of the thesis presents a novel model designed to allow many simulated human actors to make purchasing decisions in a self determining fashion, based on the cost of various goods. The new model simulates multi-item market- places, floating prices on goods, and spacial effects on trading and resource extraction. A preliminary version of the model is tested under eight different conditions, and the results are presented and discussed.

FoR codes (2008)

149902 Ecological Economics



Unless otherwise indicated, the views expressed in this thesis are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the University of Wollongong.