Technological pipe dreams and the fixation on perpetual growth have prevented effective climate policies for decades
“Happiness does not pay pensions”, said the Austrian chancellor Sebastian Kurz at the recent World Economic Forum in Davos. The statement aimed to criticize the idea of a “post-growth” or “degrowth” society, which has received increasing attention in light of the climate crisis. The key to protecting the climate would be innovation, claimed the chancellor, while an end to economic growth would mean an end to the welfare state.
The arrival of smartphones, self-driving cars and the Cloud are all symptomatic of a profound shift that is re-writing modern society from within: the Fourth Industrial Revolution. New technologies claim to provide answers to a host of problems, but is technology unbound always a force for good? In the first of a three-part series on the Fourth Industrial Revolution, EcoPolítica’s Paz Serra Portilla argues that blind optimism must be replaced by a wider societal debate in which technological advances are scrutinised and held accountable. Only then, in an age of climate warming and spiraling inequalities, can we fruitfully navigate both the opportunities for emancipation and autonomy and the dangers of perpetuating past mistakes that the technological revolution presents us with.