Energy, Society, and Environment: Technology for a Sustainable Future

By David Elliott | Go to book overview

14

The global perspective
Global economic development patterns
The Industrialisation process
Post-industrial society
The potential for leapfrogging

Environmental sustainability is a global issue: pollution does not respect national boundaries. The industrial system that creates it, and makes use of environmental resources, is increasingly organised on an international scale. This chapter explores the way in which industrial development patterns have influenced energy use around the world since the industrial revolution. It argues that new patterns of technological and industrial development may be needed in both the developed and the developing countries if the environmental limits that face the existing industrial system are to be overcome.


World development

Our analysis so far has suggested that, in very general terms, a sustainable future is technically feasible but socially and politically problematic, in that it might be seen as challenging the industrial and economic status quo. Our focus has been mainly on energy use in the developed countries, which historically have created and continue to create the bulk of the world’s pollution. However, the developing world is catching up. Indeed, as Figure 14.1 illustrates, in terms of carbon dioxide production, the developing countries have collectively overtaken the developed world. Unless remedial actions are taken emissions are likely to increase dramatically.

Unless agreements can be negotiated on an international basis there is little hope for long-term environmental sustainability. However, this

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