|A 2009 symposium presentation of Chinese ecological economist Wenyuan Niu's 2001 social combustion theory. |
In 2001, Chinese ecological economist Wenyuan Niu, amid the growing Chinese social physics school, was proposing what he referred to as "social combustion theory" as a means to formulate an "early warning system" type of socio-meter so to detect periods of social burning, so to say: 
“Social Physics is a full interdisciplinary science between natural and human sciences. It refers that, with the law, theory, principle, thinking, and methodology of physics (and including other natural sciences), social physics faces issues of social and economical field to seek new regulation, profound mechanism, and quantitative explanation through reasonable modification and rational extension of the natural sciences. In this paper, the author designs a framework of ‘social stability warning system’ using so-called social combustion theory. The system can be used as a powerful tool to simulate and forecast level of national stable situation.”
In 2009, Niu was expanding on his theory, as follows: 
“Social Harmony Equation (SHE) leads the social system to the evolution direction of social by accumulation of “social combustion substances”, i.e., the accumulation of microcosmic entropy increase “basic particles” (individual) in social system from assimilated “basic social energy” to dissimilated one; meanwhile, the catalysis of “social combustion promoter” (social excitation energy) has enhanced the “social temperature” of disordering process of social system and completed the energy accumulation of social entropy increase that can generate the transition. Finally, ignited by the “social trigger threshold”, the social system has completed the abrupt change from orderliness to disorderliness. The continuous variation of the above-mentioned three basic non-linear processes has jointly composed the whole contents of social combustion theory. Under the restriction of such conditions of different time (t), different space (α) and different scale (β), it is finally explained as a comprehensive dynamics of social system deterioration.”
1. Niu, Wen-yuan. (2001). “Socialphysics and the warning system of China’s social stability” (abs), Bulletin of the Chinese Academy of Sciences,1, 15–20 (in Chinese).
2. Niu, Wen-yuan. (2009). “Social Combustion Theory: Dynamics of Social System Deterioration” (abs), in: Complex Sciences: First International Conference, Complex 2009 Shanghai, China, February 23 - 25, 2009 Revised Papers, Part 2 (pgs. 2293-99) (Amz). Springer.
● Liu, Yijun and Niu, Wenyuan. (2012). “Social Physics: an Interdisciplinary Way to Explore Mechanism of Public Opinion” (url) (pdf), in: Theoretical and Methodological Approaches to Social Sciences and Knowledge Management (§12) (editor: Asuncion Lopez-Varela). IntechOpen.com. 3. Roberts, David. (2011). “Change GDP, Change the World”, Grist.org, Sep 30.