Human behavior, not technology, may be the key to alternative energy

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Technology may not be enough to break the world’s dependence on fossil-fuels, according to University of Oregon sociologist Richard York. For decades, the consensus as to why fossil-fuels are necessary has largely been focused on the lack of alternatives and the technology to make these alternatives viable. Now that technology has reached the point where such alternatives as solar, wind, and hydrogen are viable, progress toward breaking away from fossil-fuels is expected to accelerate. In a new report, York posits that this is not the case. York argues that the problem is human behavior.

Though alternative energy has major implications for the world of business, it is primarily a political issue. As such, political ideologies often determine the course of alternative energy and whether or not it will make any progress. York claims that most proponents of alternative energy do not consider human behavior when trying to sway the opinions of politicians. York claims that social context, and not just technology, is the key to making alternative energy viable.

York suggests that the way people think about alternative energy affects their energy consumption. As such, their energy consumption is equal or slightly less to what is seen when people derive their energy from fossil-fuels. York notes that efforts to suppress fossil-fuels may be better than finding new alternatives to use. This may be true, considering the availability of current alternatives that can replace fossil-fuels entirely.

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