Reply To: Mon 3 March: Ecology, History and Unequal Exchange

Start Forums Courses Current Debates and Themes in Global Environmental History Mon 3 March: Ecology, History and Unequal Exchange Reply To: Mon 3 March: Ecology, History and Unequal Exchange

Author Replies # Posted on March 4, 2014 at 13:23

Reflection seminar – Alf Hornborg – 3/3/2014 Nick Hirschstein

Define technology: Hornborg was during the seminar quite clear on what in his opinion technology stands for. What I found reoccurring with the book and his explanation on technology, ecology, and economy is that he seems point out that in all cases, it is not necessarily bad, if we use it consciously. As with our technology it has driven us to a globalized economy, and this is not sustainable. If we want to use technology sustainable we should use it more locally, and this will eventually result in a more equal exchange of goods than now is the case. However when I consider this, and everyone would trade locally, promoting equal exchange I would still think is that ‘the southern hemisphere’ on this planet would be in trouble. I would wonder if in countries with large populations would be able to sustain themselves like Europe would (obviously also because of the financial means in Europe and the already high standard of living). In short, if something like this would happen it would mean many people would have to die, in order to come to a ecological and economical sustainable world, which of course is not really optimistic, but that was the feeling I was left with.

Hornborg does point out that something catastrophic needs to happen in order to force people (or rather the society/government/politics to a turning point. I would say that Hornborg has an interesting view on technology, however his sum-zero theory is not something I completely agree on. Using technology wisely has benefited many, and that can continue for ages to come, of course it has it’s downsides, but those are sides to work on, not to turn your back on. According to Hornborg the 1902 president of the American Chemical Association figured that by 1970 the US could be running on solar energy, and since it is now 2014, it is never going to happen according to Hornborg. I find this weak argumentation, especially with the knowledge now that we have about two world wars, which has not helped sustainability research. Even though he mentions these things shortly, I get this feeling on other parts of his argumentation as well.