Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Look to Engineers for a Change We Can Believe In

How can the new administration fix the problems we face today? Putting engineers in charge would be a good start.

Engineers and scientists gave us an industrial revolution and put a man on the moon, but technology seems to have stalled now that politicians and money managers are in charge. While engineers do things that lead to real productivity, politicians and money managers don’t do anything productive, they just manipulate money. It seems that they’re not even good at that, as we now have a financial crisis on top of an energy crisis and a climate crisis. And, as everyone knows, money managers want the rest of us to bail them out. It’s time to put engineers back in charge. If we’re ever going to replace fossil fuel or solve the climate crisis, it will be because of the efforts of engineers.

Until engineers are in charge once again I doubt that we’ll see substantial progress. Politicians lack vision when it comes to renewable energy projects. You might find a grant for putting solar panels on a library, but nothing for an engineer working to make solar systems more efficient and affordable to the public. While they could be generating excitement about moving away from fossil fuels, instead they solarize a few buildings. It makes a great photo opportunity, but doesn’t really do much good beyond that. We need more money for renewable energy projects, and we need to use the available funds wisely. We need to investigate renewable energy solutions in actual homes, in all corners of the country, not just at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) in Colorado.

Don’t wait for wealthy industrialists like Richard Branson or T. Boone Pickens to solve the problems. Both claim to care about the environment, and both have projects in the works. Branson seems to love the spotlight, but it remains to be seen if he’ll make good on any of his promises. Boone hopes to recruit others to do his bidding, and it remains to be seen how much he’ll accomplish. I’ve written to both gentlemen about my work. It seems that if they truly care about the environment, they would be interested in what I’ve been able to do. I’ve cut my own use of electricity and natural gas by almost 50%, on a small budget, and without sacrificing my quality of life. It should be obvious that with funding, my work could be duplicated in households across the country, resulting in a large reduction of fossil fuel use and a tremendous environmental impact. This should be of interest to anyone genuinely interested in the environment, but I haven’t heard from either Branson or Pickins. I doubt that I’ll hear from the new president either.

So I’ll keep plugging away at my own projects, with my own personal funds, as will many other engineers and ordinary people who hope to make a difference. Maybe our grandchildren will have a better future because of our efforts, maybe not. At least I’ll go to bed at night, knowing that I did the best I could.

John

1 comment:

Damon said...

Hey SJ!

Not all of us in banking deploy our engineering skills for evil y'know! B^>

Interesting that you've written to Old Beardie! Did you get a (canned) response?

Here's a sample of my email traffic I put up: http://www.earth.org.uk/from-the-inbox.html

Rgds

Damon