Action on climate change and climate technologies has been delayed by a series of Obstacles, which people need to understand, to progress.
The magnitude of delay is real and huge, and puts extra strain on dealing with the real problems, and hence delay becomes part of the problem. It is discussed here.
General Problems of Transition
This section of the website deals with other general problems of energy transition social, psychological and technological.
The Virtue of Fossil Fuels
Fossil fuels are a well understood, highly efficient and easy to use form of energy generation. If it were not for the pollution, health consequences, ecological destruction and generation of climate change we would probably not be changing from them.
Political and Economic Obstacles
Repeatedly, utilising effective climate technologies, is disrupted by political and economic obstacles. Politics and economics are connected, as markets are political and not natural objects. Political power can be granted by market success, and by the accumulation of wealth, as wealth can buy all the other forms of power such as political support, legal support, communication, and even imposition of violence. Markets are governed by regulations, conventions, taken for granted assumptions, the information that is promoted in the market and so on. These regulations and conventions are often sites of struggle, between competing factions.
I suggest that the ideas and imaginings promoted by the currently dominant movement (or set of economic and political understandings) known as ‘Neoliberalism’ has (unintentionally?) inhibited effective climate response and the use of climate technologies, and acts as an activator of delay and resistance to action. Neoliberalism’s prime function seems to be to protect businesses from ‘government’ or the ‘people,’ and to strongly argue that pollution, and ecological destruction are ‘externalities’, and should not be factored into economics. Any proposition implying that climate change could curtail business activities and profits, will be resisted.
Problems of The Information System
Information is important. It can heavily influence how people as a group see the world, and what they will and can do to affect that world. While it is not the only driver of what people do, it can be important. It is therefore another site of political struggle. Politics and business can suppress information, or ensure it is not widely distributed. Inaccurate information seems to be an essential part of market behaviour, as companies engage in hype, advertising, PR and informational struggles with each other. Lack of information, or incorrect information can drive a ‘social unconscious,’ or a set of dynamics which is rendered invisible, which further disrupts attempts to continue social life or deal with problems a society faces.
While optimism was high that the Internet could solve informational problems, by making information freely available, we seem to have found that the internet and the way it is used, make problems worse. People can easily find information and ‘information groups’ which support positions that they feel comfortable with, reinforce their mistakes/errors, filter out counter evidence and encourage emotional activities which further isolate them from other sources of information or counter-information.
Understanding how information works is fundamental to any kind of transition and study of problem solving.
Degrowth or Collapse?
It appears that the current trajectory of society will likely lead to collapse without radical change. Many people have suggested that degrowth, or the decoupling of economic life from growth and expansion, is a vital part of the response to climate. This has to be considered, although degrowth seems unlike to be successful.