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 5, 2014 at 15:13

Relpy to Michael Deflorian’s reflection by Kristina Berglund

Michael, I do agree with the convincing nature of Hornborg’s arguments. I found it difficult not to buy his general arguments and to see that there is anything overwhelmingly provocative with his arguments, as most people with interest and concern about global environmental challenges would agree that there is something profoundly wrong with our way of organizing our economic system and the way we exploit natural resources at the expense of other people and the environment that supports us. I agree with Hornborg’s argument that many politicians, economists and people in general seem to have an unlimited faith in technology and that it will be the great solution to all our problems.

However I also share your unease with the way Hornborg presented his arguments without a full account of his normative assumptions – a clarification of this from his side would make his argument even more compelling, as you rightfully point out. I would also add to this unease his lack of a clear explanation of what the alternative, his radical reorganization of the economy, would actually look like in practice. I mean, is it really possible to organize society with only locally produced goods and foodstuff while at the same time not compromising the livelihoods of some parts of the world – is this possible today for all people in the world? With climate change and increasing areas that will not be inhabitable without imported goods, we might need to rely on global trade in some way. And how would this reorganization of society be done when so many powerful powers have extremely high stakes in continuing the unequal world system as it is? How will it be possible to make powerful politicians, economists and multinational companies to think along these linese, and I guess also ‘ordniary’ citizens for example in Sweden, that are living convenient and well-off lives? I think it is a question he does not touch upon well enough.

Anyway Michael, thank you for a thought-provoking and well written reflection. Regardless of some flaws in Hornborg’s lecture and reasoning, I am convinced that his general line of thinking will be useful in future discussions and readings in global environmental history.