As a result the Kodak company completely lost out on the opportunity to be at the forefront of the change in technology and it lost money and market share hand over fist. It eventually adapted to the new way of doing things but much too late in the day.
Most oil companies are in exactly the same position. They are producing a product which was part of the last phase of the industrial revolution and will become as obsolete as steam trains. Oil and gas cannot continue to be used on any large scale without generating huge problems for the environment and the economy. Sooner or later we are going to have to move to a low energy economy and cost of making the transformation is only going to go up with time.
Just as in the case of Kodak, researchers have come up with some very good alternatives and many of these have now gone well beyond the point where they cease to be cutting edge discoveries adopted by a few enthusiasts. They are being implemented successfully right now and with every passing year they get more efficient and the cost comes down. For example, solar energy is starting to reach the point where it becomes cheap enough to compete effectively with oil and gas without subsidies. It has the advantage of being generated on the spot and not needing a transport infrastructure. It is becoming increasingly flexible so that it can be incorporated into the design of a lot more things that factories and houses.
There are also more radical technologies coming through such as hydrogen power. Really interesting work is being done into energy storage and transportation to cut waste. Many of the research projects will take decades to bring to market or will fail. But put enough money into advanced research, development and implementation and the right technology will come through.
Countries and companies are reacting to the opportunities created by new technologies in different ways. Some are investing heavily in research, development and implementation. Solar panels are being installed in enormous numbers across China and the Chinese are positioning themselves to become the exporter of choice of the next generation of solar. Other countries are relying on the old technology continuing to be the way to do business. They are desperately fracking the ground beneath their feet or engaging in costly military adventures and appallingly cynical compromises with horrible regimes such as Saudi Arabia and Russia in the hope that they will be able to get enough oil to carry on business as usual.
Business never carries on as usual. It changes and shifts. What do we want from our government? A serious investment programme into reducing energy consumption and securing Britain's place at the forefront of the next phase of the industrial revolution? Or a backward looking out of date country that depends on burning an ancient fossil to drive its economy? I know what kind of future I want. And not just for the sake of the planet. I can see the UK ending up like Kodak. Regretting lost opportunities because we were scared to adapt to change.
If you really want a long term economic plan then vote Green.