Notes March 28 2008
March 28, 2008 § Leave a comment
Some thoughts on an energy, climate change, technology and institutions.
The political, governmental, and corporate resistance to change is very powerful. The technical discussions on potential solutions are too separated from the political discussions. The basic assumption is that current political arrangements are capable of evolution. I tend to doubt it. So long as the story of technical progress is subordinated to the story of capital and corporations under the current rules, solutions probably will not be forthcoming. I recall the words of one of the major executives of a major role for responding to a question about “green technology” by saying “when those technologies are mature we will buy them.”
I look ahead to times when, to defend their ocean front land, its owners will use all their political power to use the Federal and state budgets to defend the coastline from encroachments rising sea levels leaving no money for anything else. I see here in Sonoma County that experiments in agriculture or housing homeless returning vets from Iraq (there are 200,000 homeless vets in the country) are basically impossible because no land is available. Experiments in water use and the use of our incredible trees for new approaches to energy are defeated by the same logics. Our institutional life is really locked up, making flexibility almost impossible. If there were a plan that could be capitalized one could imagine corporate participation, but what is required above all is flexibility so we can respond to emerging circumstances.
The future of technology should not be in the Darwinian world where the successful solutions are only the ones that meet the needs of the bankers. The current regime of concentrating wealth will accept green solutions when those solutions support further concentration.
An example would be the legislation on organic foods. That legislation is used to control the potential success of the organic market. Current regulations do not allow the use of antibiotics for example on organic cows. The result is that much organic meat is more diseased then that produced by the cow factories.
And we need to think through the strong possibility that technical people and the general population would support an authoritarian regime that would, in the face of lack of progress, impose solutions. If
Forthright discussion of the technical opportunities requires an integrated forthright discussion of our institutional arrangements. Technological optimism, in order to realize its possibilities, needs to break out of its dependence on institutional stagflation.