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Individual Paper: Transformation of the technosphere and the critical agency of the degrowth movement

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If the world wants to stay on course of keeping the global warming below 2ºC, it has an extremely short time window and a tight carbon budget to pull it off with. It has to act quick to thoroughly decarbonize the capitalist fossil economy and transform its technological base. Yet, there have been voices warning that the room for the collective agency is extremely limited and/or unnecessary.

Some have been warning about the technological lock-in. Take for instance, there is Peter Haff’s notion of the technosphere, where humanity’s aggregate technological base is elevated into a geological paradigm in its own right - semi-autonomous from its human component and predicated on the existing energy system, making all concerted attempts to control and transform it unlikely to result in success. This presentation argues that Haff overreaches deterministically in his argument by literally naturalizing technology and thus ignoring social factors that shape technological development. At the other end of the spectrum, there are cautions against planning, coordination and intervention in development and deployment of technologies, as they are unfeasible in the current globalized and financialized capitalism, championing market-based solutions to overcome climate constrictions instead. Given the short timespan and carbon budget, the so-called green growth has little to show in terms of renewables actually replacing – and not just adding to – the non-renewables in the current global energy diet.

This paper aims to outline a) opportunities for the collective agency at local, national and trans-national scales (e.g. activist groups against coal-plants in Croatia, alliances with international groups such as Trade Unions for Energy Decmocracy, campaigns of, b) what technologies can be of help in that process (particularly use of technologies in environmental monitoring and account) and c) concluding remarks as to how the degrowth movement could tactically orient its own practical and theoretical experiences to help other social actors pursue the path of a post-growth transformation.


Day: 2018-08-23
Start time: 14:30
Duration: 00:15
Room: ABF (206)
Track: Technology in a Degrowth Society



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