Technology is tactical. Behavior is strategic.

May 12, 2018 by Joshua
in Leadership, Nature

People widely expect technology to solve our environmental problems. What technology? They don’t know. Something someone will invent in the future.

What about the pattern that technology has driven consumption of fossil fuels and plastic, accelerated using up resources, and created pollution such as plastic, carcinogens, and so on? But but but they make things more efficient. They do for a while, but the trend is toward accelerating the system creating the problems.tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat

You know the problems—sea levels, resource depletion, extinctions.

Technology, especially speculative, unknown, future technology can be part of a solution. But technology itself at most suggests tactical approaches.

The problems result from our behavior. Behavioral change is a strategic approach: how do we change our behavior on a global level? How do we change the system?

Technological changes haven’t changed our system. They nudge it and make parts of it more efficient, but in the long term, they tend to accelerate and amplify the system. While some technology could us past a tipping point that would lead the system to a new state, it’s not likely. No technology has changed the system we’ve been on for the past 10,000 years.

The system’s goals and beliefs are a leverage point of the system. Change them and you have a chance at changing the system. New beliefs and goals can change behavior. That’s leadership. It’s not the only way to change a system, but it’s possible and seems more likely to me than dreaming of a technology that doesn’t yet exist, would develop in time, and would affect the system.

Carbon sequestration wouldn’t change the system. Neither would fusion or substantially cleaner fission, nor solar, wind, or any other renewable. Population control could do it, which is behavioral change.

Relying on tactics to drive strategy is backward.

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