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7 WHO SHALL DECIDE? Experts are people. We know little about our scientists, our technolo- gists, and those who are elected or appointed to make our policies. We need to be informed about their professional training, their perspec- tives on the world, the structures of their work places, and the unexpressed values by which they judge and select their goals. These constraints within which experts function must be made a part of our understanding so that we can evaluate their advice with an eye to their stakes in the outcome. Expertise is associated with objectivity. But what may be func- tional to the advancement of the individual and his profession may come to be inappropriate for social problem solving. Then, too, the thinking, the logic, and the conclusions of experts include hidden value judgments that either lie beyond their fields of expertise or are not shared by their peers or by the society for which they purport to speak. The problems in energy are both technical and nontechnical. The latter aspects have been ignored, or, worse, preempted in the technical expert's analyses, often without the knowledge of the nontechnician. A major source of distrust of experts is that most of the facts about the energy situation are highly technical. People are under- standably uncomfortable about having to make long-range, crucially important policy decisions on the basis of information they find diffi- cult to comprehend. They must therefore turn to experts for explanations and guidance through the tangle of technologies. But the experts seem to be identified with the very industries which stand to profit most by the nation's continuing along the traditional high-growth energy path. Such experts assure us that technology will, in time, solve most, if not all, of the problems now confronting us as the energy crisis. 130
131 Additionally, technological forecasts, like predictions in every area of human life, can be mistaken. Experts can be wrong about how soon a technology will become available: "As far as sinking a ship with a bomb is concerned, you just can't do it." Rear Admiral Clark Woodward, 1939 They can be wrong about the uses to which the technological inno- vation will be put: "(Airplanes) will eventually be fast, they will be used in sport, but they are not to be thought of as commercial carriers. To say nothing of the danger, the sizes must remain small and the passengers few, because the weight will, for the same design, increase as the cube of the dimensions, while the supporting surfaces will only in- crease as the square." Octave Chanute, American aviation pioneer, 1904 And they can be wrong about the invention's consequences for tech- nology itself: "...Even if the (screw) propeller had the power of pro- pelling a...vessel, it would be found altogether useless in practice, because the power being applied in the stern it would be absolutely impossible to make the vessel steer." Sir William Symonds, Surveyor of the British Navy, 1837 If, therefore, experts display themselves to be as fallible as the rest of us within their own areas of expertise, some persons have begun to ask for their credentials for claiming our unquestioning assent when they move outside their fields and begin to forecast social and cultural consequences of the technologies they purvey. Even if we were to grant (and there is little reason for doing so) that they may know better than we how likely such consequences are, they are not thereby in a better position than we to say how desirable they are. Expertise is associated with decision making within narrow confines. With increased specialization comes an isolation that separates the expert from the lay person, and the expert in one field from the expert in another. Such isolation and its accompanying homogeneity may result in productivity for the individual and the profession while at the same time decreasing human benefits generally. The anthropologist A. L. Kroeber (1948) summarized this situation without commenting on the pit- falls:
132 As the total culture is thereby varied and enriched, it also becomes more difficult for each member of the society really to participate in most of its activities. He begins to be an onlooker at most of it, then a by-stander, and may end up with indifference to the welfare of his society and the values of his culture. He falls back upon the immediate problems of his livelihood and the narrowing range of enjoyments still open to him, because he senses that his society and his culture have become indifferent to him. The problems of late-twentieth-century America have a seamless quality about them that does not recognize the well-delineated spheres of expertise. The ideology of the marketplace is one cluster of values that per- meates the way experts tend to think about sociopolitical problems in our country. In the theory of market ideology, individuals and organi- zations make market decisions, and these all somehow add up (with the aid of Adam Smith's "invisible hand") to satisfactory choices for the society as a whole. We recognize the efficiency of the market as a superb mechanism for ordering this immensely complex process. What usually goes unnoticed, however, is the important though subtle role of the culture in guiding the process. It is not necessarily true that private self-interest alone, oper- ating in the marketplace, results in wise social choices. The culture that guides the microdecisions determines the kinds of social macrode- cisions that result. If, for example, the culture has negligible con- cern for future generations, then the market alone will permit, even encourage, depletion of nonrenewable resources and spoliation of the environment, talk of "internalizing the externalities" notwithstanding. The future will be discounted at rates that profit the present genera- tion. If the culture contains no ethic of protecting the poor and the weak, whether persons or nations, then market decision making will make the powerful richer and the weak poorer. Paul Diesing (1962) distinguishes five kinds of rationality that operate in modern societies: technological, economic, social, legal, and political. He describes how economic rationality has gradually been gaining dominance over social and political choices: Most of the sociocultural changes occurring in the Western world in recent centuries are either a part of, or a result of, economic and technological progress. One cultural element after another has been absorbed into the ever-widening economy, subjected to the test of economic rationality, rationalized, and turned into a commodity or factor of pro- duction. So pervasive has this process been that it now seems that anything can be thought of as a commodity and its value measured by a price...time, land, capital, labor, also personality itself, ...art objects, ideas, experiences,
133 enjoyment itself, and even social relations. As these become commodities they are all subject to a process of moral neutralization. Our society's decisions are now based on neat and quantified but limited economic rationality. Economic goals have been substituted for social goals; what are properly meansâtechnology and the economyâhave been elevated to the rank of ends. The economist Kenneth Boulding (1969) has distinguished between economic decisions, appropriately made with the aid of economic ration- ality, and "heroic" decisions, which must be made another way. Whether the United States should give overwhelming support to developing solar energy and to husbanding nonrenewable resources would seem to call for such a heroic decision. One of the chief architects of our present political system, Edmund Burke (quoted 1975), would have argued so from his view of the social contract with the yet unborn: Society is indeed a contract...[but] as the ends of such a partnership cannot be obtained in many generations, it be- comes a partnership not only between those who are living, but between those who are living, those who are dead, and those who are to be born. To the extent, therefore, that experts are influenced by the mar- ketplace in their sociotechnical advice, we must hold back from embracing their views wholeheartedly, for values beyond the marketplace will figure heavily in public acceptance of a national energy policy. There are lifestyle issues and judgments that the marketplace alone will not settle. For example, more single family dwellings, urged on by mortgage policies that implicitly value economic development more than environmental preservation, mean more strip mines and greater pressure to build large-scale and more polluting energy parks. How do we balance these two conflicting tendencies, one that apparently im- proves our well-being, the other that reduces it, both of them hard to measure? Clearly, the marketplace and the technical fixes will do much to alleviate many of the difficulties. At issue to energy planners, however, is the risk that the marketplace will not do enough, or that the marketplace will not function, or that political interests will influence short-term market signals so that our economic structure will not truly respond to the beneficial signals that the marketplace might offer. In the chapters describing the 72- and 53-quad societies, we empha- sized two factors that enter into the per-capita demand for energy: (1) the various goods and services consumers demand and (2) the energy intensity of producing each of those goods and services. We noted that the most important strategies for reducing energy demand would be to reduce these intensities by substituting other resources for energy. We noted also that, because different activities have different intrinsic energy intensities, changes in choice of activities can influence energy demands. In the 53- and 72-quad scenarios, we suggested variations in
134 the running of households, tae stringing together of auto trips, and variations in the size of homes and the total miles driven. These structural or lifestyle factors, although influenced by energy concerns, such as costs and pollution, seem to be driven by forces larger than energy-related market considerations. For although the growth of sub- urbs and the increased travel suburbanites needed to obtain services were certainly facilitated by the availability of inexpensive gasoline, mortgage and land-use policies quite unrelated to energy concerns were also important factors. This is not to say that decisions to subsidize suburbanization and single family dwellings were incorrect but only that they were made on the basis of individualistic values, perhaps to the exclusion of micro- and macro-economic considerations. We need not ban large cars or limit the distances car owners may travel. But we may want to redefine the marketplace upon which we have heaped many of our social goals through subsidies, taxes, rules, and propaganda in the form of advertising. Choices that may be rational in the personal sense may conflict with social or macro-economic goals. For example, most people feel little urgency to buy smaller cars or to drive less. Such reasons as national security, or that such actions would reduce the demand and price of gasoline to users, or that environ- mental damage from both the harvesting and use of gasoline would be reduced, or that the future price of energy to yet-unborn or inactive participants in economic or social decisions would be lower, have weighed little with them so far. Such concerns are difficult to express in theory in the marketplace, especially when they involve activities rather than intensities. Technology can fix the amounts of energy required to produce at least some goods and services. It cannot fix changes in the activities people undertake. The pressure to continue to subsidize energy development rather than energy efficiency is today juxtaposed with pressure to control energy prices. Consumer groups are supporting energy-price controls, not to gain artificially low energy prices (cheap energy) but to pre- vent the artificially high energy prices that would occur in the absence of controls as domestic energy producers raise their prices to the OPEC cartel's monopoly price. The result would be distortion of the entire economy and inequitable transfers of wealth, as is true of all monopoly pricing. The value judgment has been made, however, that cheap energy is good and that society should be structured around cheap energy as long as possible. It is certain that the increase in the number of homes after World War II influenced energy demands. That energy appeared in copious quan- tities at low prices, however, suggests that in the short range the wisdom of this sprawl, viewed from the standpoint of energy or other resource use, did not require questioning. Today, of course, we are paying the price of our negligent approach to resources in pollution, high-marginal-cost replacements for petroleum, and land-use patterns that impede transition to less energy-intensive transportation. Virtu- ally all our energy options, except for most forms of solar energy, involve substantial environmental dangers, but in our hurry to produce rather than save energy, we find ourselves pressured by many interest
135 groups to make such judgments about trade-offs as: How much is present consumption at a low price worth in terms of environmental costs and risks? The implication is that we can keep our costs low by passing them on to the future, the ecosystem, and so on. In summary, political and social decisions about resource use extend beyond the marketplace and are influenced by subjective values and judgments. This is not improper in itself. What is alarming is that experts often pretend to be able to perform objective analyses on energy systems or energy users because they are unwilling to acknowledge the values on which their decisions or analyses are made. But we cannot permit experts to decide which energy system we shall have if they use only the vantage points of technology and economics. It is imperative that our long-range energy planning be integrated with other kinds of planning and that all long-range aspects of the energy problem, especially environmental costs, be integrated with more traditional marketplace factors, no matter how difficult they may be to quantify. Our worry, however, is whether we take into consideration the prob- lems and risks associated with energy use in our policy deliberations and in our choices of lifestyle. The Energy Research and Development Administration (1976) spoke of developing energy resources in ways that will not restrict lifestyle choices because of energy availabilityâbut the direct and indirect costs associated with making increasingly larger amounts of various energy forms available will themselves restrict life- style choices to some degree, because rising costs will fall dispropor- tionately on the poor, because the environmental values that are dear to some groups may be sacrificed in the interests of higher energy pro- duction for the nation as a whole, and because centralized decision making appears to be a necessary concomitant of any high-energy future. Centralized decision making takes the form of government decrees, expropriation of land, massive use of tax funds, and government support for the social infrastructures required to attract and support large numbers of people who harvest new oil, coal, gas, geothermal, solar, and uranium supplies, as we are currently seeing in the investigation into the costs of the Alaskan pipeline. To what extent do we want to influence our ways of lifeâand thereby our energy demandsâto reduce these residuals? This is an extremely serious question, and the answer may lie for the most part outside the marketplace. We would argue that planners need to incor- porate more information than cents-per-kilowatt-hour in the bottom lines of their calculations.
136 REFERENCES Boulding, K. 1969. Economics as a Moral Science. American Economic Review 59(1):1-12. Burke, E. 1975. Quoted in entry on Conservatism. Encyclopedia Britannica, 15th ed., vol. 5:62-69. Diesing, P. 1962. Reason in Society. Urbana, 111.: University of Illinois Press, p. 5. Energy Research and Development Administration. 1976. A National Plan for Energy Research, Development, and Demonstration: Creating Energy Choices for the Future. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office (ERDA-76-1). Kroeber, A. L. 1948. Anthropology. New York: Harcourt, Brace, p. 291.