Technology as the solution to the climate change problem – or not?

The technology will solve climate change – or not?

A new invention has been made that allows batteries to store twice as much as the most modern batteries. A solar panel has been invented that is hyper bendable. Something has just been invented to spray solar cells onto a surface. But will they solve climate change? That chance is small.

A look at the past says a lot. The Industrial Revolution would make the products so cheap that everyone could afford them. That’s now maybe 10% of the world population that structurally can afford that. That’s all.

You could even say that the technology destroyed more than it actually solved in the first place. Because at the beginning of the last century, a massive war industry arose and the mass production of weapons meant that anyone could be shot.

The next technology solution were the crop protection products. They would solve the world food problem. Nothing of that came true.What did help were the IMF and UN based food programmes, effective since the late 1970’s (and shrinking now). This reduced the starvation with big numbers. The crop protection products like DDT made the opposite become true, because a lot of agricultural land is now toxic in developing countries, while companies such as Bayer (bought Monsanto) and BASF have grown into large multinationals.


The industrial revolution only started to have an effect on the poor when a counterpower of workers arose. Things started with the right to strike, then insurance and more regulations whereby large groups received a wage with which they could buy the -indeed cheaper- products. Of course, this has not yet spread widely across the world, it only concerns mainly Western countries.

The crop protection industry only started working after regulations. DDT was banned and as more data became available on the damage, more and more variations of crop protection were banned. Did techonolgy help solving the starvation? The opposite has become more true, because a lot of agricultural land is now toxic in developing countries, while companies such as Bayer (buyer of Monsanto) and BASF have grown into large multinationals., but the damage is limited by regulation and control.

Choices, choices

With every new technology there is a choice as to what we will do with it. If you do nothing, the market will do its job and – in short – shareholders of a company will become very rich.

It is often a choice. What are we going to use our new technology for? It is the personal choice for solar panels, it is also the choice of what is sensible for the public interest. For example, the choice to vote. For example, we now see that many national governments are still stimulating the fossil fuel industry with tax breaks and subsidies. A study showed that, for example, the Dutch State spent 17.5 billion on fossil fuel companies. It led to questions from parliament. A self-investigation followed. The State came to 4.5 billion, but had to admit that not all figures could be revealed. It led to more questions. These numbers are still to come.

Of course, politics has perverse tendencies. But isn’t it the world upside down when our chosen establishment, with a strong policy of fossil freedom, spends billions of our tax money to fossils?

Strict and clear regulations are important now. These appear to be insufficient; our governments spend more billions to fossils than to fossil freedom and can get away with it. This leads to the question if you want that? And democracy wise, do you still want to vote for such a shady government?

So coming back to the question in the header, technology itself is just a condition and we are doing great on that. Fossil free living is already cheaper than fossil living. But nothing will happen if you don’t chose to allocate for it. For your private use, and -perhaps of more importance- for strict and clear regulations. These choices are finally your choices.