By and large I feel that our failures to mitigate climate change reside in our government and in the ways that politics over the past 60 years have favored slow and limited steps towards action. While technology plays a crucial role in offering the means of powering our society in a sustainable and healthy way, so much of its progress is often dependent on the whims and decisions of the government. In the example of the light-water nuclear reactor, failure to improve upon the design and switch to a liquid fuel reactor, a technology which would have generated waste 10,000 times less toxic than plutonium, was due to the Nixon administration who wanted instead the plutonium for nuclear weapons during the cold war.
In the light of technology produced through academia, politics often can play a large role as well. Often, new and progressive technologies arise from the minds and laboratories of institutions and universities, which are at least partly funded by government programs and grants. When the political tides turn to defund such national programs to “reduce government spending” or reallocate the money to defense budgets and subsidies, the government indirectly stifles the progress of technologies that could lead to the next great revolution in sustainability.
Point being, our climate issues have not only arisen out of our government decisions, but in a large way the technology we frequently hold up to be our environmental save all is largely directed by our political climate. Overall, it appears to me that the failure of our mitigation action resides in our political system and the ways in which it often upholds priority to a thriving economy. With an option of delay that favors short term gains that can be used to win the next term’s election, the necessary decisions that must be made to address our climate dilemma are too often cast aside as fanciful and hopeful rhetoric. That ‘one-day’ technology too often is our scapegoat. The fact that our government has acted very little to make simple and much needed efficiency changes, which are now in existence and could reduce our energy consumption by 50%, is enough of a red flag to indicate that the government is failing to take even the most moderate of actions.