I’ve almost written this before, but what the hell?
I think there is way too much optimism in certain parts of the ‘alternate power’ or renewables movement. Over and over again you hear things like good design wins out, or the economics of renewables will win through, or that change is resisted by old fuddy duddies, then it arrives successfully and everyone is happy.
This is crap.
There is very little evidence that humans always manage to resolve life-threatening issues – indeed people in power can resist any change that appears to threaten them, threatens their loyalties, threatens their world view, or threatens their sense of order.
When that happens, and it is happening now, then there is always a powerful lobby trying to prevent change, and that lobby often wins until everything breaks down. They can keep resisting change, and making change awkward for a long time – and if they have access to real power (law, regulation, violence etc) they can stymie beneficial change completely.
Once society gets into a destructive habit, reinforced by the power relations, then it is hard for that society to change voluntarily or with any control.
That is shown over and over by history. People go on poisoning the ground they depend on, keep building temples at the cost of food, keep fishing the lakes until they are empty, keep turning the army into a barbarian militia or keep expanding beyond the possibilities of supply lines working. It is what happens.
However, despite this victory of the old order’s disorder, the disruptions and pressures keep building and eventually everything falls to pieces. The empire or the nation lies in ruins. Helpful organized change was stopped. Massively destructive change happened instead.
Beneficial change, does not always just arrive because its sensible, or the alternative is social destruction.
It requires political action, campaigning and good stories. It is not enough just to have good design and be cheaper.