Demand, Users and Innovation
Edited by Rod Coombs, Ken Green, Albert Richards and Vivien Walsh
Arie Rip and Aard J. Groen INTRODUCTION Compared with the ‘careless technology’ of the 1960s (to quote the title of a book at the time (Farvar and Milton, 1972)), the present safety, reliability and environmental friendliness of many products and technologies, at least in the richer countries, is striking. Salmon are swimming in the Thames again. Companies like The Body Shop, but also 3M and Proctor & Gamble, pride themselves on their contributions to sustainability, and are recognized for it. Critics might call these accomplishments ‘rearranging the deckchairs on the Titanic’, and point out ongoing exploitation of natural resources, the hazards of the man-made environment, and long-term macro-risks such as climate change. For the moment, our interest is not in who is right and who is wrong, but in the observable fact of an overall change in the last decades, as well as the widespread recognition of the importance of paying attention to environmental aspects. In addition, in contrast to blaming the technology of the 1960s and 1970s as perhaps inherently ‘careless’, many stakeholders in these issues are interested in new technological options. They actively seek technological development (or better, socio-technical developments) to contribute to solutions of environmental problems, including the uncertain but possibly staggering climate change problem. A double question can now be raised: how did improvements which are clearly in the public interest emerge at all, and can one expect further changes now that demand for climate-friendly technology appears to be articulated? Clearly, there must have been more to...
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