Technology changes not when it might but when it must.
Sensitive people note problems and talk about them. Writers and other influential people talk it up. Crusades are launched. And these crusades create counter-crusades. The argument soars in the media. And for a while it seems as if nothing will ever be done. But gradually, as the threat becomes more tangible, the counter-arguments subside. Laws are written. Treaties are signed. But still no great progress is made. Finally, the general population begins to make changes. But these changes don’t happen until the threat becomes tangible to the affected population.
There are countless examples but one of the best is that of overpopulation. Throughout my childhood and adolescence, overpopulation was considered by many to be the greatest threat we faced. Books were written. Documentaries were produced. Essays appeared regularly in both scientific and popular journals. But nothing much got done until the Baby Boomers (in Europe as well as the USA) began having children. And then, before long, things changed dramatically in those parts of the world. The growth of population among developed countries (and even China) slowed to a halt. Before long a new threat appeared: under population. Some scientists, writers and politicians became worried that civilization was in danger because of the first world’s population was diminishing. Today, you don’t hear much about it except in relation to Africa.
I suspect the same thing will happen with global warming. We have been hearing about it for more than ten years. But the naysayers have succeeded in convincing half of the population that the problem doesn’t actually exist. Eventually, if the threat begins to affect millions of people in a tangible way the disbelievers will believe and the population will begin to change.
“It may be too late by then,” the soothsayers argue. And if it is then all their dire predictions will be seen as prescient. My guess is that people will make massive changes at that point of tangibility and global warming, like overpopulation, will cease to be a great threat.