Undesirable Steeping Stones

This story from BBC reminded me of undesirable stepping stones.

Power line ‘key for green energy’

Failure to build a controversial new power line could kill Scotland’s renewable energy plans “stone dead”, green businesses have warned.

Opponents of the line said the larger pylons would ruin the landscape.

But industry forum Scottish Renewables said the 137-mile Beauly to Denny upgrade was necessary for the future growth of green energy production. […]


Sometimes, we need “undesirable” steeping stones to get where we need – and to the point where they make themselves obsolete. In this case, we may need ugly and possibly harmful power lines to develop more ecologically tuned energy. And they are of course only temporary, until the technology and infrastructure is available to replace them (Which – if we are honest – we see may be a while. Once something like this is in place, it tends to stay for a while).

This is another example of how we can use the lens of Spiral Dynamics to look at a particular situation.

At blue, there may be support or resistance depending on if and how “we” are affected by it, in terms of our smaller social/cultural/religious group. Do “we” benefit in terms of economics? Is there a risk to “us” in terms of health? If there is a strong stewardship component, wider ecological concerns may come into the picture. Is the defacing of the natural/cultural landscape worth the monetary profit? This landscape is, after all, God’s creation and a reminder of God’s majesty.

At orange, we can also go in either direction. We may be more likely to say – of course let’s do it, it is good for business. The health concerns are valid, but not conclusively supported through research. We may go so far as to deny any health concerns until they are widely accepted in the scientific community. Or, if we are strong in terms of human rights and the precautionary principle, we may say that the risk is unknown and hits people unfairly, so let’s wait until we have more information.

At the green level, we are not likely to accept these types of stepping stones. They are after all possibly harmful to health, and a symbol of industrial culture – the root of all current evil.

Second tier views are more appreciative of the evolutionary/developmental process in general, including the contributions and pitfalls of each phase. We are now able to more fully acknowledge the problems with any particular approach, while also seeing that it may be a neccesary link to something more desirable. And – hopefully – we are aware of the tendency to use this as an excuse for “easy” (standard, readily available, familiar) solutions where a more thorough analysis and work may come up with something less harmful.

We are able to take the bigger picture in several ways. We see the that this is a temporary phase of a longer term process, leading to something else. We can acknowledge both possible benefits and risks. And we are aware of the possibility of using this as an excuse for easy solutions and self-deception.

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