By Joern Fischer
So I have a question to all of you who regularly read this blog (thanks by the way! I know we’re only coherent about once a week … let’s hope today is one of those days…): Will the Toyota Prius solve our sustainability problems?
This question is either a sign that I’m definitely moving beyond issues on which I know what I’m talking about, or I learnt a lot about cars just in the very recent past, or … this is simply a somewhat lame hook to keep you reading. Yeah well, it’s the latter (keep reading). Kind of.
I was recently in Stockholm, and along with California, this seems to be the place where Toyota sells most of its hybrids. Much more fuel efficient than conventional cars, arguably — and hence a big step in the right direction. Is it?
But let me rephrase my question. Here is what I’d actually like your responses on: Will better technology help us to solve our sustainability problems? Or is technological development, by and large, simply missing the point altogether? I think there are three possible answers:
1. Technology is not going to help us. Sometimes it might be beneficial, but that’s so rare that overall, better technologies are pretty much not something we ought to even focus on in debates about sustainability.
2. Technology will help us! After all, if we powered our needs by solar energy, drive hydrogen cars etc, this will be extremely useful! Plus better communication technology helps us find better solutions, and means we don’t have to fly as much. And so on.
3. Technology might help us at times, but we need to look elsewhere, too. This is boring middle-ground type stuff. Probably true. But to what extent?
So, if you can be bothered to respond, please do: Honestly, what do you think? Do we need a revolution of values, completely overhaul our society’s order, and re-invent the goals of humanity? Or do we just need to get better at using the avenues already open to us, e.g. by using smarter policies and cleaner or more efficient technologies? Most importantly, to what extent should we focus on either type of solution? Eighty percent technology, or 80% societal overhaul? And to add one more: what do you do in your own lives with respect to either?
I’m curious if anyone will respond … I know we have quite a few readers, so I hope we get a few opinions here! Controversy is welcome!