Pacey (1983). Chapter 4 – Beliefs about Resources. (The Culture of Technology.)

Pacey, A. (1983). Chapter 4 – Beliefs about Resources. In The Culture of Technology (pp. 55–77). Cambridge, Massachusetts: MIT Press.

“We are [page break] mostly well aware of the advertising, the marketing techniques, and the planned obsolescence by which manufacturers of domestic consumer goods, clothes and automobiles seek to promote sales. Yet we do most of our shopping in precisely the way that the manufacturers want, pushing our doubts into the background. Through similar backgrounding habits, professionals of unimpeachable integrity produce biased projections or preside over organized waste in the electricity and water industries without noticing it. All of us habitually do this, because otherwise the world would seem too complex to deal with. We accept a distorted world view in order to make the more immediate parts of our experience manageable.” (p 55-56)

“Even though we do not have the capability to extract this enormous endowment now, he argues, by the time we need it, ‘I am sure we will think up something.’

“That last comment tells us a good deal about the fundamental beliefs of those who argue that the earth’s physical resources will last indefinitely. They have a remarkable faith in technology, and accuse the scientists who foresee a crisis of scarcity of not understanding society, and in particular, of under-estimating the way human inventiveness can respond to market forces.” (p 60)

Table 3, page 66

“One study group has argued that we have an obligation to future generations to think fifty years ahead, and criticizes most commercial and political planning for its ‘horizon blindness’ beyond about ten years.18” (p 67)

[Er, failure of imagination? -oki …]

“How is poverty to be overcome if not by economic growth?” (p 69)

[Pacey seems to take issue with organized labour, blaming strikes for economic problems and referring to labour movement as “militant” without further explanation. (p 74) -oki]

[But then…]

“But one thing common to most countries where equity has increased alongside economic development is that, in one way or another, the interests of low-income groups have been effectively represented in the political process. Sometimes this has [page break] come about through peasants’ movements, trades unions and organized protest, sometimes through open elections, and sometimes through revolutionary change. Circumstances differ greatly, but nearly always, demands have had to be expressed from below before there is a more equitable allocation of resources — including food, welfare provision, and in agricultural communities, access to land.” (p 77)

Selected Notes

  • 18. Council for Science and Society, Deciding about Energy Policy, London: CSS (3/ 4 St Andrews Hill), 1979, p. 89.
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