Technology Optimism in a Socio-Economic Perspective
AbstractIt is widely acknowledged that a great effort is necessary to cope with environmental problems. Focus is often upon technological change as the main way to achieve sustainability. But is it reasonable to place so much faith in technological change? The main dividing line between the optimistic and the critical view relates to the importance of distributional issues. First, an over-narrow focus upon technology diverts attention from the need to deal with distributional issues as an integral part of coping with environmental problems. Second, the technology optimists underestimate the need for changes in fundamental mechanisms, power structures and basic ideas as preconditions for influencing the direction of technological change. The paper deals with the state interventionist version of technology optimism, where it is emphasized that active industrial and technology policies should supplement market-based instruments to make sure that the technological potential for solving environmental problems is realized.