• The limits of technical fixes
• The need for social change
• Incentives for change
• Strategic choices for the future
Given that we live on a small planet with finite natural resources and a fragile ecosystem, environmental sustainability may be incompatible with continued economic growth, at least of the current sort. But as this chapter shows, not everyone agrees with this proposition: the optimists believe that human ingenuity and technical fixes will suffice, the pessimists believe that more radical technical, and perhaps social, changes may have to be made. Radical changes may appear threatening to those whose livelihood is linked to the present arrangements but, as we shall see, there may also be some benefits.
The key message of our analysis so far is that technology presents problems, but also possibly some solutions, even if these may have problems of their own. These problems require a process of social negotiation—as part of the larger process of moving towards a sustainable future.
Many strategic and tactical issues emerge from our discussion so far. Some are essentially ‘technical’, although they may have major social implications, e.g. should renewables be developed on a local, decentralised basis or must they be integrated on a larger scale? We will be looking at this sort of issue in Chapter 15.
Our focus in this chapter is on strategic issues which take us beyond the