Environmental careers should not only concern natural and technical sciences but should include the socio-economic sciences. Dobré and Lavoux (chapter 13) have pointed out the interesting fact that the only field where job advertisements were more numerous than candidates was in the socio-economic field in France. This chapter will explore how other fields of knowledge can interact together in a dynamic way to achieve sustainable development.
Over twenty years ago my attention was drawn to the potential of energy efficiency. At that time the energy problem was essentially the dependence upon oil and the problem of nuclear energy. It was demonstrated very convincingly to me that energy savings of 70-80 per cent could be achieved by using appropriate technologies. It seemed then that what was required was an approach to governments which explained the basic facts to them and the problem would be solved. Twenty years later some progress has been made but certainly not as much as should have been.
Technical advances and solutions to current environmental problems can only be implemented if there is the political will and support to do so. Figure 18.1 shows diagrammatically the process which is necessary to solve problems and implement appropriate solutions. This process must commence with the identification and definition of a problem, for example the threat to climate; next a technical solution is found which must then be incorporated as a policy option. This process is mainly related to ‘hard’ sciences where it is easier and usually more straightforward to make progress.
The second part of the equation is effecting policy implementation, which usually meets with many obstacles and problems, and the monitoring of results. This is much more complicated and generally progress is slower. Usually considerable effort goes into the first part, where the technical details of what should be done are calculated, but invariably insufficient attention is paid to the second part of the loop, as shown below.
One example of this policy loop operating is related to energy efficiency and the problem of climate change (see Figure 18.2). Many of the boxes