Ecology and Technology in the USSR
Pages 22

In the pre-Gorbachev period, the actual impact of ecological considerations on technological development was minimal. At the same time, some natural scientists and economists (whom I call, loosely speaking, environmental advocates) began to factor ecological effects into their assessment of the social and economic value of technological innovation. Some of their conceptions made their way into official parlance, most notably where they were consistent with other regime goals. For example, support for recycling of the by-products of production (in Soviet terminology, "the utilization of secondary raw materials") and other measures to reduce waste of natural resource inputs have been included in planning documents since the late seventies. Such commitments, consistent with leadership efforts to improve the efficiency of production and lower production costs, also implied support for transformation of the technological base of production. Nonetheless, most proposals made by experts to alter technology in response to ecological stresses did not make their way into practice. It is important to examine some of the theoretical underpinnings and policy considerations that explain this failure and also to examine more closely the case for technological conversion made by the environmental advocates.