Energy, Society & Environment: Technology for a Sustainable Future

By David Elliott | Go to book overview

14

Sustainable development
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.


Strategic issues for sustainable development

The key message of our analysis so far is that technology presents problems, but also possibly some solutions, even if those solutions can 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 have emerged from our discussion so far. Some are essentially 'technical', although they may have major social implications; for example, should renewables be developed on a local, decentralised basis or must they be integrated together on a larger scale? We will be looking at this sort of issue in Chapter 16.

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Energy, Society & Environment: Technology for a Sustainable Future
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Figures ix
  • Tables xi
  • Boxes xiii
  • Series Editor's Preface Environment and Society Titles xv
  • Preface xix
  • Acknowledgements xxix
  • Abbreviations xxxi
  • Part 1 - Environmental Problems 1
  • 1 3
  • Further Reading 18
  • 2 19
  • 3 46
  • Part 2 - Sustainable Technology 67
  • 4 69
  • 5 91
  • 6 107
  • 7 129
  • 8 154
  • 9 176
  • Part 3 - Problems of Implementation 191
  • 10 193
  • 11 205
  • 12 219
  • 13 235
  • Further Reading 248
  • Part 4 - Sustainable Society 249
  • 14 251
  • 15 267
  • Further Reading 280
  • 16 281
  • 17 301
  • Appendix I 319
  • Appendix II 321
  • Glossary 323
  • References 325
  • Index 339
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