1
The Human Dimension

In March 1982, when we started writing this book, a headline in the New York Times announced, “Energy Shortage Eases Materially.” The article went on to quote the then U.S. Secretary of Energy (in Martin, 1982): “I’m not going to say the energy crisis is over, but we are certainly heading in the right direction.” More recent news stories continue to echo this message. In a more recent public opinion poll, only 7 percent of the respondents considered energy one of the nation’s two most pressing problems (Hershey, 1982). Had the energy crisis really ended?

It would be comforting to believe that the energy problems of the United States are well on their way to solution and that a new analysis of the national energy situation is unnecessary. Unfortunately, the data do not support such an outlook. Recent changes in world oil markets do not herald the end of the nation’s energy problems. In spite of temporary surpluses of oil, the United States still imports about 20 percent of the oil it uses from the Middle East—an area that has certainly not grown more stable in recent years. Furthermore, the United States has agreed to share oil with its allies in case of a shortfall, and some of these allies are critically dependent on Middle Eastern oil. Thus, a serious disruption in the supply of oil from the Middle East, which is always possible, would have grave consequences for the United States. As James Schlesinger has said (quoted in Martin, 1982), “The energy crisis is over until we have our next energy crisis.”

Granted that a combination of increased energy production and conservation to meet the nation’s needs is still an urgent national priority, why another study? The answer is that most previous analyses of the conservation and production of energy have all but ignored an important



The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement



Below are the first 10 and last 10 pages of uncorrected machine-read text (when available) of this chapter, followed by the top 30 algorithmically extracted key phrases from the chapter as a whole.
Intended to provide our own search engines and external engines with highly rich, chapter-representative searchable text on the opening pages of each chapter. Because it is UNCORRECTED material, please consider the following text as a useful but insufficient proxy for the authoritative book pages.

Do not use for reproduction, copying, pasting, or reading; exclusively for search engines.

OCR for page 1
THE HUMAN DIMENSION 1 About this PDF file: This new digital representation of the original work has been recomposed from XML files created from the original paper book, not from the original typesetting files. Page breaks are true to the original; line lengths, word breaks, heading styles, and other typesetting-specific formatting, however, cannot be retained, 1 and some typographic errors may have been accidentally inserted. Please use the print version of this publication as the authoritative version for attribution. The Human Dimension In March 1982, when we started writing this book, a headline in the New York Times announced, “Energy Shortage Eases Materially.” The article went on to quote the then U.S. Secretary of Energy (in Martin, 1982): “I’m not going to say the energy crisis is over, but we are certainly heading in the right direction.” More recent news stories continue to echo this message. In a more recent public opinion poll, only 7 percent of the respondents considered energy one of the nation’s two most pressing problems (Hershey, 1982). Had the energy crisis really ended? It would be comforting to believe that the energy problems of the United States are well on their way to solution and that a new analysis of the national energy situation is unnecessary. Unfortunately, the data do not support such an outlook. Recent changes in world oil markets do not herald the end of the nation’s energy problems. In spite of temporary surpluses of oil, the United States still imports about 20 percent of the oil it uses from the Middle East—an area that has certainly not grown more stable in recent years. Furthermore, the United States has agreed to share oil with its allies in case of a shortfall, and some of these allies are critically dependent on Middle Eastern oil. Thus, a serious disruption in the supply of oil from the Middle East, which is always possible, would have grave consequences for the United States. As James Schlesinger has said (quoted in Martin, 1982), “The energy crisis is over until we have our next energy crisis.” Granted that a combination of increased energy production and conservation to meet the nation’s needs is still an urgent national priority, why another study? The answer is that most previous analyses of the conservation and production of energy have all but ignored an important

OCR for page 1
THE HUMAN DIMENSION 2 About this PDF file: This new digital representation of the original work has been recomposed from XML files created from the original paper book, not from the original typesetting files. Page breaks are true to the original; line lengths, word breaks, heading styles, and other typesetting-specific formatting, however, cannot be retained, aspect of the situation—what we call, for lack of a better term, the “human dimension.” The human dimension refers to the rich mixture of cultural and some typographic errors may have been accidentally inserted. Please use the print version of this publication as the authoritative version for attribution. practices, social interactions, and human feelings that influence the behavior of individuals, social groups, and public and private institutions. To consider the human dimension is to recognize that the behavior of individuals and institutions is multiply determined.1 This may seem an obvious point, but it has important ramifications. Most analyses proceed from the simplifying assumption that energy producers and consumers are rational economic actors: that is, that they are motivated to maximize the value of some objective function, such as income, profit, or organizational size. Individuals and organizations are assumed to behave as if they had carefully calculated their self-interest and acted accordingly. This assumption is a useful simplification. It accurately predicts, for example, that when oil prices rise relative to the prices of other fuels, some energy producers will invest in oil exploration, and some energy users will switch to other fuels or purchase more energy-efficient equipment. But such aggregate truths conceal great variation among energy producers and users, and some of that variation can be understood in terms of other concepts and analyses. People have values, dreams, and social needs, and they sometimes act on them. They often act out of habit, laziness, duty, trust, or a desire to please others, and they act differently than they would if they were to carefully calculate their self- interest. People also form organizations, families, political parties, and social movements, and these social groups, like individuals, are more than rational economic actors. Groups, organizations, and governments often follow routine, precedent, ideology, or the example of a leader rather than act on careful calculations. Their choices among alternatives certainly are influenced by analyses of expected costs and benefits, but they are also influenced by other factors: the outcome of internal political struggles, the recent choices of similar groups, the desire to promote socially shared values, and the personal preferences of individuals in powerful positions. Social groups maintain coalitions out of tradition, build monuments for prestige, and fight battles for honor. After the fact, many of the actions of individuals and groups can be interpreted as if they were the result of rational calculations of self-interest. But for policy purposes, it is crucial to be able to predict, as well as to interpret, the behavior of individuals, groups, and institutions. It is also essential to have a wide range of policy alternatives available for debate and adoption as energy conditions change. SURPRISES IN THE ENERGY SYSTEM Several recent events demonstrate that there is a pressing need for improved prediction as well as for new policy options for energy. In the past, analysts

OCR for page 1
THE HUMAN DIMENSION 3 About this PDF file: This new digital representation of the original work has been recomposed from XML files created from the original paper book, not from the original typesetting files. Page breaks are true to the original; line lengths, word breaks, heading styles, and other typesetting-specific formatting, however, cannot be retained, have frequently been surprised when well-engineered energy technologies fail to work as expected, or when carefully planned policies or programs are greeted and some typographic errors may have been accidentally inserted. Please use the print version of this publication as the authoritative version for attribution. with public apathy or opposition, or when energy users behave very differently from what was predicted or expected. Often the surprise is traceable to the fact that the analysts had not paid enough attention to crucial processes in individuals, organizations, or social institutions. There is a body of empirical knowledge about individual and social behavior that can help avoid or cope with such surprises, but this knowledge has been largely ignored by policy makers.2 Only a few examples are needed to illustrate how, by taking the human dimension more fully into account in energy policy, the nation could render the prospect of energy crisis less threatening, make important energy production technologies more reliable, and enable the public to make better informed choices about energy use. Responses to Oil Shortages In 1979, a minor shortfall in oil supplies led to widespread hoarding of oil products, long lines at gas pumps, the installation of dangerous extra fuel containers in private cars, and even occasional violence in the form of fistfights and shootings. The energy policy community responded with proposals designed to keep gas lines from forming as a way of preventing such unexpected and antisocial behavior in the next period of shortage. But these proposed alternatives were based more on reactions to a politically unacceptable situation than on a careful analysis of behavior in crisis situations. Such reactive policy making runs the risk of substituting a new difficulty for the old one. For example, one way to make shortages disappear is to allow prices to rise. This could eliminate gas lines by making it prohibitively expensive for some people to buy gasoline. Under the conditions of 1979, such a policy may have been better than what actually occurred. But if this policy were practiced in a serious shortfall, the frustration and deprivation that would follow uncontrolled price increases might greatly increase other undesired effects, such as the siphoning of gas from gasoline tanks, vandalism or robbery of gasoline stations, or random acts of aggression. A policy of offsetting price increases by taxing the increase and recycling the tax revenue would prevent deprivation only if the recycled revenues were to reach the neediest segments of the population very quickly and effectively. So far, these issues seem not to have been carefully considered. Reactive policies fall short in a more fundamental way as well. They are based on implicit acceptance of an energy system that is organized to make planning for gasoline emergencies a necessity, rather than on a view that the energy system might be restructured, for example, to decrease the dependence on automobiles, the prime users of gasoline. The human dimension of energy is important both in understanding

OCR for page 1
THE HUMAN DIMENSION 4 About this PDF file: This new digital representation of the original work has been recomposed from XML files created from the original paper book, not from the original typesetting files. Page breaks are true to the original; line lengths, word breaks, heading styles, and other typesetting-specific formatting, however, cannot be retained, responses to crises and in organizing the energy system to be less crisis-prone. For a number of years, research in the social and behavioral sciences has been and some typographic errors may have been accidentally inserted. Please use the print version of this publication as the authoritative version for attribution. analyzing human behavior in crisis situations. The social processes involved— panic behavior, emotional reactions to threatened loss of freedom, and similar types of responses—are not easily understandable in terms of rational choice, but they can be understood in terms of concepts developed by psychologists and sociologists (e.g., Schultz, 1965; Brehm and Brehm, 1981). Other research findings and insights can be used to inform political debate on the issue of preventing energy crises. These include research on the ways settlement patterns, land-use policies, and other social forces affect energy needs. In addition, the vision that has limited policy makers to a reactive approach is in itself the product of a fundamentally important process—one that shapes the way people think about energy. We discuss this process in Chapter 2. Three Mile Island The accident at the Three Mile Island nuclear power plant focused attention on the human dimension, but this time in an area of energy production. The President’s Commission on the Accident at Three Mile Island concluded that “…the fundamental problems are people-related problems and not equipment problems.” A major problem was that the plant’s control panels had been designed in a way that confused operators when the equipment malfunctioned. This confusion could have been predicted, given knowledge of the plant design and of processes of human perception and information processing. Both perception and information processing have been studied extensively (e.g., Haber, 1969) and have been the subject of considerable applied research with airplane control panels (Roscoe, 1980) and other technologies (e.g., Sheridan and Johannsen, 1976; Van Cott and Kinkade, 1972). Such behavioral research has been used in both the public and private sectors for many years—since long before the development of a nuclear power industry—and has led to improved training of equipment operators and more human-centered design of machines. It seems clear, however, that this expertise had not been used in the nuclear energy industry. Since the disaster, considerable new investment has been made by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the industry in understanding how human beings interact with the equipment and in developing more understandable equipment design (Mynatt, 1982). Another major problem at Three Mile Island was a lack of coordination among relevant personnel. For example, the “incident” was not reported by operators to their supervisors, or by utility officials to federal and state authorities, for some time. This delay occurred in spite of company policies and federal regulations requiring immediate reporting. However, there are reasons that employees do not always follow company policies and that

OCR for page 1
THE HUMAN DIMENSION 5 About this PDF file: This new digital representation of the original work has been recomposed from XML files created from the original paper book, not from the original typesetting files. Page breaks are true to the original; line lengths, word breaks, heading styles, and other typesetting-specific formatting, however, cannot be retained, organizations do not always follow federal regulations. Reporting a power plant accident may invite expensive consequences for a utility company even if the and some typographic errors may have been accidentally inserted. Please use the print version of this publication as the authoritative version for attribution. incident is insignificant, so both operators and utility officials hesitate to report as significant problems what may turn out to be unimportant events. Because minor events are much more common, it is not surprising that operators and officials may wait in the hope that a situation will resolve itself. At Three Mile Island, in fact, the failure of responsible personnel to manage events effectively and to report the accident quickly seems to have been partly due to the reward structure of the workplace (Egan, 1982). There is a considerable body of research on organizations as social institutions that sheds light on the processes that can operate in organizations to undermine the intent of stated policies (e.g., Cyert and March, 1963; Kaufman, 1971, 1977; March and Olsen, 1982; Sproull et al., 1978). An informed expert in organizational behavior would probably have been able to see that the existing regulations were inadequate to ensure reporting of the events at Three Mile Island or similar reactor accidents. With available knowledge, the society could probably develop a more effective oversight procedure or change the balance of incentives to favor more rapid reporting of potential disasters. Nonresponse to Energy Audits Free or low-cost home energy audits are being offered by many utility companies around the country. The typical level of response is less than 5 percent over the duration of a program (Hirst et al., 1981; Rosenberg, 1980). In California, for example, electric and gas utilities publicize their free energy audits both in the media and in bill inserts, and the publicity assures the consumer that an audit would be beneficial in terms of both savings and comfort. By 1982, however, only about 2 percent of the eligible California customers had taken advantage of the offer.3 Why do people pass up information that is both useful and free? There are several possible reasons. They may not trust the utility as a source of information; they may not believe the offer of something for nothing; they may be unable to arrange a convenient time for the energy audit to take place; they may not even see the announcements of the program. Or they may be unwilling or unable to act on information about energy-saving investments for their homes because they cannot do the necessary work themselves and believe that they cannot find a reliable contractor, and so may see the information as irrelevant. If energy audit programs are to be of any substantial practical value to residential energy users, they must be based on improved understanding of consumers’ beliefs and motives relating to home energy conservation. Understanding the communication processes operating in this situation

OCR for page 1
THE HUMAN DIMENSION 6 About this PDF file: This new digital representation of the original work has been recomposed from XML files created from the original paper book, not from the original typesetting files. Page breaks are true to the original; line lengths, word breaks, heading styles, and other typesetting-specific formatting, however, cannot be retained, would also be useful. However, energy audits are usually seen by policy analysts as an almost irresistable offer of something for nothing rather than as a process and some typographic errors may have been accidentally inserted. Please use the print version of this publication as the authoritative version for attribution. involving communication, motivation, and belief. Much relevant research has been done on communication processes, including some studies of energy information as communication (e.g., Ester and Winett, 1982; Stern et al., 1981), but the findings have rarely been integrated into the design of energy audit programs. These examples illustrate areas in which knowledge of the human dimension can be used to improve prediction and make energy policies and programs more effective. But this knowledge has not yet been systematically developed, largely because the social and behavioral sciences that offer insight into the human dimension have not been called upon to address energy policy issues very often or very intensively.4 It is therefore necessary for this book to be more of an exploration than a prescription. By reviewing the human side of a sampling of energy issues that relate primarily to energy use, we hope to add a needed dimension to thinking about energy policy and to offer new ideas for tackling a few difficult energy problems.5 About This Book For our study, we selected for analysis three energy issues we consider to be among the most important facing the society: 1) the nature and determinants of energy consumption; 2) the problem of preventing, preparing for, and responding to energy emergencies; and 3) the attempt to meet energy needs through action at the local level. This book considers how policy in each of these areas could be improved by using knowledge of the entire range of factors that influence individual and social behavior. The central purpose is to improve energy policy by broadening analysis to incorporate the human dimension. The next chapter provides an essential context for this endeavor. It offers an important example of how patterns of approaching energy issues have restricted energy policy options and how a broader view can open new possibilities for debate. In a modern society, energy has at least four distinct aspects: it is simultaneously a commodity, an ecological resource, a social necessity, and a collection of strategic materials. But in thinking about energy, people tend to focus on only one of these aspects at any one time. This narrow focus is one reason that general and expert opinion about energy has been so volatile and that policies often seem inappropriate by the time they are implemented. The dominance in energy policy analysis of one view of energy— that it is essentially a commodity—helps explain the typical conflict over energy issues and the failure of the political system to even debate many plausible energy alternatives. Chapter 2 thus sets the stage for a broader analysis of some specific energy policy issues.

OCR for page 1
THE HUMAN DIMENSION 7 About this PDF file: This new digital representation of the original work has been recomposed from XML files created from the original paper book, not from the original typesetting files. Page breaks are true to the original; line lengths, word breaks, heading styles, and other typesetting-specific formatting, however, cannot be retained, Chapters 3, 4, and 5 analyze present energy consumption and the potential for improved efficiency in energy use. Energy users act in an environment that and some typographic errors may have been accidentally inserted. Please use the print version of this publication as the authoritative version for attribution. has some characteristics of a market (for example, fuels are available for purchase at a price), but in which other powerful forces also operate—usually to restrict consumer choices. Thus, the market metaphor is incomplete and even misleading at times. For example, the actions of intermediaries, such as manufacturers, designers, and builders, limit the choices available to the ultimate energy user. Within these limits, energy users are presented with conflicting, confusing, and often untrustworthy information about energy alternatives and are faced with an uncertain future. Furthermore, they cannot conveniently monitor the amount of energy they use nor easily evaluate the success of their efforts to modify consumption. Most energy users are in a situation like that of customers in a supermarket where nothing is marked with a price except the bottom line of the cash register receipt. In such an environment—where it is very difficult or impossible to know the costs of individual purchases—the requisites for rational choice are not present; other processes have major effects on behavior. People will respond by following routine, borrowing ideas from neighbors, maintaining habits, and avoiding what are seen as untrustworthy sources of information. Social and behavioral scientists, particularly psychologists and sociologists, have investigated such processes, both in eral and in relation to energy consumption, and their findings are examined in the context of energy. Chapter 3 focuses on the environment of energy consumption; Chapter 4 considers how individual and household energy users behave in this environment; and Chapter 5 examines organizational factors as they affect energy use by organizations and as they influence the actions of energy intermediaries. The implications for policy and programs affecting energy consumption are also discussed. Chapter 6 examines the problems of preventing, preparing for, and responding to energy emergencies such as might be caused by a major disruption of oil imports, a regulatory decision to shut down nuclear power generation, or other disruptive events. A broad view of these problems highlights the ways emergency preparedness and prevention are interrelated, the linkages between emergencies, and the likelihood of social conflict in emergencies. A limited but useful empirical basis for understanding social preparedness and response in energy emergencies exists in the findings of social science research on responses to natural disasters, individual risk-taking, stress responses, and other related subjects. Research suggests, for example, that beliefs about who is responsible for an emergency and expectations of government action may have major effects on social response. Research also shows that carefully constructed contingency plans often remain unused in a crisis. However, such research also suggests that changes in the planning process could make responsible officials better

OCR for page 1
THE HUMAN DIMENSION 8 About this PDF file: This new digital representation of the original work has been recomposed from XML files created from the original paper book, not from the original typesetting files. Page breaks are true to the original; line lengths, word breaks, heading styles, and other typesetting-specific formatting, however, cannot be retained, prepared for a crisis and could increase the public’s willingness to cooperate with official contingency plans. and some typographic errors may have been accidentally inserted. Please use the print version of this publication as the authoritative version for attribution. Chapter 7 discusses energy activities at the local level. Over the past decade, thousands of local governments and community groups have taken action to provide for the energy needs of the people and institutions they serve. Although this phenomenon has not been seriously studied, it is significant, because local action holds the promise of improved energy management both under ordinary conditions and in emergencies. Local action is also attractive because it may give communities an increased measure of control over their destinies and because it may make the national energy system more flexible and resilient. Some analysts believe this promise can be realized with appropriate policies. Others believe that the political and other difficulties that have beset national energy policy are equally serious at the local level. They believe that a focus on local action will be a wasted effort. Not enough is now known to justify a choice between these views, but the capability to gain valuable knowledge from recent experiences exists. Chapter 7 identifies a number of social and political processes that should be carefully studied because they may be critical for understanding the outcome of local energy efforts and the potential of localism as a national energy strategy. Chapter 8 presents the committee’s conclusions and a summary of recommendations. It shows how new ways of thinking about energy policy can grow from clearer recognition of major features we identify in the energy system: the prevalence of uncertainty and mistrust; the perennial issue of control; the great diversity of needs, conditions, and sources of influence; and the various predictable but “nonrational” elements of individual and organizational behavior. Such recognition leads to recognizing energy problems and solutions as located within complex social systems, to considering an adaptable energy system as an alternative to one based on better planning for future events, to emphasizing the processes as well as the outcomes of policy development. Such shifts of outlook can bring promising new policy options into focus and broaden the range of alternatives for public debate. This report is not a comprehensive study of the human dimension of energy; our intention is rather to underscore the importance of the human dimension by analyzing selected topics. For some of the topics we do not examine, overlooked social institutions and social or psychological processes play a significant role. Some topics have been the subject of extensive empirical research by social and behavioral scientists; while for other topics such research is needed. The following topics, while not covered in this report, are also part of the human dimension of energy: Energy Production Processes. Energy production has social and psychological aspects that are often overlooked—as the Three Mile Island accident

OCR for page 1
THE HUMAN DIMENSION 9 About this PDF file: This new digital representation of the original work has been recomposed from XML files created from the original paper book, not from the original typesetting files. Page breaks are true to the original; line lengths, word breaks, heading styles, and other typesetting-specific formatting, however, cannot be retained, amply demonstrated. Organizational, political, and decisional processes affect energy production in other ways as well: examples include political choices to and some typographic errors may have been accidentally inserted. Please use the print version of this publication as the authoritative version for attribution. support particular energy production technologies and corporate choices about high-risk energy investments. Social Implications of Major Energy Technologies. There is an extensiveliterature on “social impact assessment” (e.g., Finsterbusch and Wolf, 1981), as well as available research on particular related topics, such as the adaptation of individuals and social institutions in energy boomtowns (e.g., Freudenberg, 1982) and the social effects of power-plant-siting decisions. The subject is also alive in the policy world: a 1983 decision of the U.S. Supreme Court, which overturned a 1982 appellate court decision, gave the Nuclear Regulatory Commission permission to restart the undamaged nuclear plant at Three Mile Island without first evaluating possible effects on the psychological well-being of people in the surrounding communities, who live in fear of a recurring catastrophe. Relations of Energy Use to Society. The expansion of high-technologyenergy production has had massive effects on the organization of society (Adams, 1975; Cottrell, 1955; White, 1959), and there may be substantial social consequences of a societal choice between “hard” and “soft” energy systems for future energy development (Lovins, 1977). There is also considerable research relating energy use at the aggregate level to various measures of “quality of life” (e.g., Nader and Beckerman, 1978). Social Processes That Contribute to Energy Policy. Energy policy decisionsare affected by political and economic interests (e.g., Engler, 1961, 1977; Rosenbaum, 1981; Wildavsky and Tenenbaum, 1981; Willrich, 1975), by ideology (e.g., Wildavsky and Tenenbaum, 1981), and by the educational, professional, and employment backgrounds of the people who have been most prominent in policy making (Nader and Milleron, 1979). These influences on policy have all been the subjects of study by political scientists and anthropologists. The Politics of Nuclear Power. Several social and psychological processeshave crucial but not obvious roles. For example, knowledge of the empirical findings on human judgments about the acceptability of risk (e.g., Slovic, Fischhoff, and Lichtenstein, 1982) is critical for understanding why opposition to nuclear power has been so persistent and forceful despite the small number of casualties so far attributable to the technology. Also highly relevant are existing studies of the value conflicts and the social movements and organizations involved in antinuclear and pronuclear political activity (e.g., Nelkin, 1981; Rankin, 1978) and of the political processes that led

OCR for page 1
THE HUMAN DIMENSION 10 About this PDF file: This new digital representation of the original work has been recomposed from XML files created from the original paper book, not from the original typesetting files. Page breaks are true to the original; line lengths, word breaks, heading styles, and other typesetting-specific formatting, however, cannot be retained, to government decisions to promote a technology that was to be so vigorously opposed by a large minority of the population (e.g., Bupp, 1979). and some typographic errors may have been accidentally inserted. Please use the print version of this publication as the authoritative version for attribution. Concentration of Control Over Energy. Social and economic processeshave led to an increasing concentration of the control over the U.S. energy system in the private sector, and, in particular, by large energy corporations. These processes are both political and economic, and they almost certainly have extensive effects upon the way energy is used in society, as well as upon the ways decisions about energy are made. This topic has recently begun to be systematically studied (e.g., Blair, 1976; Burton, 1980). Demographic Changes in the Society. There have been and continue tobe major demographic shifts in the country that have implications for energy demand in the housing, transportation, and industrial sectors. These changes interact with each other and with other economic and social changes in complex ways. The size of the typical U.S. household is declining, the national age distribution is changing to include a larger proportion of older persons, and the migration of people and industries within the country and internationally is affecting where people live in relation to each other and to their jobs. Clearly, these social and behavioral changes affect energy use, and these relationships are beginning to be examined (e.g., Zimmerman, 1980; Abrahamse and Morrison, 1981). Equity. Inequities and perceived inequities have been produced by a system that allocates energy on the basis of ability to pay. Such a system enables individuals to make decisions reflecting personal tastes, but it makes energy allocation dependent on the distribution of income. The result is that some people, because they are poor, are treated in ways generally acknowledged to be unfair or unfortunate: for example, the elderly poor who are unable to buy heat in winter. Policies emphasizing further price increases for energy are frequently criticized as inequitable for these reasons. Such criticisms raise a number of empirical questions: How do people at different income levels in different regions of the country cope with rising energy prices? How effective are various policies designed to mitigate economic hardships resulting from rising energy prices? What is the potential for socially disruptive behavior as one response to perceived inequity? Information on the answers to these questions is becoming available. To summarize, there are many important social and behavioral questions related to energy that we do not examine. But in the areas we do address, we offer new ideas for energy policy. Just as importantly, we explore a different way of looking at energy policy issues. It is our belief that adding the human dimension to the analysis of energy issues will increase understanding of how the energy system functions. Better understanding can

OCR for page 1
THE HUMAN DIMENSION 11 About this PDF file: This new digital representation of the original work has been recomposed from XML files created from the original paper book, not from the original typesetting files. Page breaks are true to the original; line lengths, word breaks, heading styles, and other typesetting-specific formatting, however, cannot be retained, broaden the range of policy alternatives for consideration. We believe such a broader debate can help the society organize to diminish the frequency of energy and some typographic errors may have been accidentally inserted. Please use the print version of this publication as the authoritative version for attribution. surprises, to cope better with unavoidable surprises, and to develop more effective energy policies and programs. Notes 1. We are not the first to assert that energy has an important human dimension. The Committee on Nuclear and Alternative Energy Systems reached just this conclusion after years of primarily technical analysis (National Research Council, 1979:80): It is important to keep in mind that the energy problem does not arise from an overall physical scarcity of resources…. The problem is in effecting a socially acceptable and smooth transition…. Thus, energy policy involves very large social and political components that are much less well understood than the technical factors… Two of the resource groups working on that report made a preliminary effort to examine those social and political components (National Research Council, 1980; Unseld, Morrison, Sills, and Wolf, 1979), but, subsequently, there has been no serious effort to develop a fuller understanding of the human dimension. 2. Some “surprises” in the energy system, such as the timing of a power plant explosion or the assassination of a political leader that destabilizes the government of an oil exporting nation, are unforseeable by any analytic technique. The response to such surprises also has a human dimension in that social organizations and institutions may be more or less flexible in their ability to respond to the unexpected. (The design of institutions for resiliency is discussed below, especially in Chapters 6 and 8.) 3. Information from J.Ainsworth, California Energy Commission, 1982. 4. While economists have always played a rather prominent role in energy policy making, other behavioral and social scientists have been underutilized. For example, when the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) was created, energy research was removed from the priorities of the National Science Foundation, which traditionally funds social science research, although the DOE did not support a research effort around social issues in energy. By 1979 DOE had developed a scattering of projects addressing social issues that are related to particular programs, but it could still accurately be said (Wilbanks, 1979) that “the social sciences are the only major category of the sciences in which DOE funds

OCR for page 1
THE HUMAN DIMENSION 12 About this PDF file: This new digital representation of the original work has been recomposed from XML files created from the original paper book, not from the original typesetting files. Page breaks are true to the original; line lengths, word breaks, heading styles, and other typesetting-specific formatting, however, cannot be retained, applied work but not fundamental research.” The department did not seriously evaluate its capabilities in social and behavioral science at that time, and proposals for a basic social research capability within DOE have never been funded. and some typographic errors may have been accidentally inserted. Please use the print version of this publication as the authoritative version for attribution. The department’s position on social research is itself part of the human dimension of energy in that it follows naturally from the agency’s institutional history. The Department of Energy evolved from the Energy Research and Development Administration and, before that, the Atomic Energy Commission, both of which had as their major purpose the development of energy technologies. DOE inherited many high-level career officials who continued to see the agency’s mission as technical development, even though additional functions had been mandated to the new department. Partly as a function of that history, most of the DOE staff has training in the physical sciences or engineering, and few staff members are trained in the behavioral and social sciences. As of March 1981, after the department had been in existence for four years, only 85 of its total staff of 19,972 either had social science backgrounds or were working on issues relating to social science; only 17 of these claimed any academic training in sociology, political science, psychology, anthropology, or geography (Office of Program Coordination, 1981). It is therefore not surprising that DOE has seen little need for social or behavioral research or that its policy analysts are often surprised when the human dimension appears as a major factor in energy events. This gap in analytic capability was a major reason for creating the committee that produced this book. 5. The committee’s work is not unprecedented, in that social and behavioral scientists have been examining the human dimension of certain energy issues for some time. There have been several major works on relationships between energy use and societal structure (e.g., Adams, 1975; Cottrell, 1955; White, 1959) and on the politics of energy (e.g., Blair, 1976; Burton, 1980; Engler, 1961, 1977; Lindberg, 1977; Rosenbaum, 1981; Wildavsky and Tenenbaum, 1981). There are numerous empirical studies of social and psychological issues relating to energy (for a partial overview, see Farhar, Unseld, Vories, and Crews, 1980; Nader and Beckerman, 1978; Seligman and Becker, 1981; Stern and Gardner, 1981) and some recent technical volumes of research (e.g., Baum and Singer, 1981; Beck et al., 1980; Stern et al., 1981; Warkov, 1978). These works, however, have been written either for relatively specialized audiences within the social sciences or for policy audiences concerned with particular energy issues. This book ad

OCR for page 1
About this PDF file: This new digital representation of the original work has been recomposed from XML files created from the original paper book, not from the original typesetting files. Page breaks are true to the original; line lengths, word breaks, heading styles, and other typesetting-specific formatting, however, cannot be retained, and some typographic errors may have been accidentally inserted. Please use the print version of this publication as the authoritative version for attribution. volume. THE HUMAN DIMENSION dresses a range of energy policy issues from a social-behavioral viewpoint and illustrates some ways 13 policy. It may also suggest ways of thinking about other energy issues not addressed directly in this of thinking about energy issues that have not been evident in most prominent analyses of energy