The days have now passed when making purchase decisions were
simple. When Oil and Gas were too cheap to measure, we could
churn out vast quantities of consumer products in factories
on the other side of the planet before shipping them into
our shops. Materials were cheap, manufacturing energy costs
were low, and transport cost irrelevant. This was the spirit
of Globalisation. The only competitive edge was the cost of
labour - so the work went to the cheapest labour markets.
These moved further and further away from the primary
consumers - from the developed world to the developing
These days the Consumer has to make more ethical decisions
about the things they buy. Do I really need it? How
efficient is it? What is its Carbon Footprint? Everyday more
information is coming available for Consumers to make such
choices. However we still lack basic information on the
'embedded carbon' in the things we buy to reduce our Carbon
Footprint. What is worse for today's ethical consumer, is the
very idea that technology isn't the answer, unless we break
the dependency on Oil...
every possible element of life in the developed world that
it has become utterly ubiquitous, indispensable and
invisible. We take it for granted. Fossil Fuel's finite-resource is required to build every wind turbine,
every photo-voltaic panel, every Electrisave and SavaPlug -
you name it - it has Oil smeared all over it. It is made of
Oil, with the energy of Oil and transported to us with Oil.
Until we break that linkage then nothing we buy will ever be
Hence we do not
label these products as being "sustainable technology". A
Horse-drawn wooden cart is sustainable technology but it is
not the definition of "technology" as many in the West would
see it. Therefore we label our low-carbon devices as
"transition technologies". They help us move in the right
direction but are not long term solutions in themselves.
Most solutions proposed in this theatre are "minority
technologies" (i.e., they can only practically be
the minority) or Transition Technology. We are still a long
way from moving along our understanding of technology
towards true solutions.
As Consumers we
must act with wisdom with one eye on the future......