Three Ecologies Podcast podcast

#4.2 w/ Alf Hornborg: Money & Metabolism

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Confronted by the many heads of the hydra that is the present ecological crisis - climate change, global inequality, reactionary politics etc. - technological solutions have come to occupy center stage in a scramble for 'fixes' oscillating between euphoria and desperation.

With the polarization of 'believing in' or 'denying' technological progress, there appears to be little space left for contestations of dominant notions of what will deliver us from encroaching devastation of the environmental, social and mental ecologies.

In this second part of our interview with Alf Hornborg, we discuss a different orientation towards the crisis of the global metabolism. Instead of obsessively chopping off each head of the beast with a 'technological fix' only to discover two more to have grown in its place, Alf urges us to focus on the chief facilitator at the root of exhausted natural and social habitats: general purpose money.

His provocative suggestion for counteracting such a generalized depletion of our lifeworlds is the introduction of an alternative currency which would not only reduce carbon emissions and other forms of environmental destruction but could reinvigorate communities and local economies.

Alf Hornborg is Professor at the University of Lund (Sweden) and coordinates their Human Ecology Division.

In his wide ranging academic work, he has developed an intruiging critique of the common notion of 'technology'. Strongly influenced by World Systems Theory, he points out the widespread neglect of systemic inequalities of the global economic system as the conditions for so called 'technological progress'. From Alf Hornborg's interdisciplinary approach emerges a whole series of provocations on themes such as 'alternative currencies', the local/global entanglement, the connections between poverty and ecological devastation, and many more. His work has found much resonance beyond the field of Anthropology, including Ecological Economics and Science and Technology Studies (STS)

This is part 2 of our conversation with Alf Hornborg

Music by: Gaetano Fiorin (

Produced by: Lukas Peter

Artwork by: Lukas Peter

(using a photo of

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