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Bert22306
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CEO
Poseurs vs doers
Bert22306   11/13/2013 8:08:27 PM
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Junko, another provocative article.

Let me say, I fundamentally disagree with Anne Leonard. Engineers are people who are paid to make things work. They are not paid for flowery prose, pretense at virtue, or make-believe solutions whose primary purpose is to make us appear virtuous to others. Therefore, naturally, when we (well, I) see people who advocate that type of behavior, it makes me cringe.

There is no question in my mind that the reponsibility for behaving responsibly, wrt to the environment, goes to individuals first. The only thing public policy does, in this regard, is to take away people's options. It forces people to behave in a way that they otherwise wouldn't. But unfortunately, because so many regulators are politically-motivated and technically illiterate, their public policies often backfire. Making matters worse, rather than better.

So, contrary to what Ms Leonard says, I advocate education. Educate the public on environmental matters, so you don't have to rely on politicians to do the thinking for you. Educate the bean counters to make them understand that more efficient designs are worth some extra R&D dollars. If you take this approach, instead of letting ourselves be guided by political sloganeering (aka public policy), that's when improvements will be real.

DrQuine
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CEO
Environmental Responsibility and the Thin Edge of the Wedge
DrQuine   11/13/2013 8:13:19 PM
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I'm all in favor of environmentally responsible behaviors large and small. Turning off idling trucks in New York City (as required by law) reduces air pollution and noise pollution. Buying a hybrid car helps test new technologies and deploy solutions (such as "auto-stop" engines at red lights) which can be installed with beneficial effects in conventional vehicles as well. (With my hybrid, I also made back the premium cost several times over in gas savings and brake repair savings.). Finally, small acts of personal responsibility help build an aware mindset and support a culture which embraces the bigger improvements which carry a global impact. 

Bert22306
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CEO
As to climate change ...
Bert22306   11/13/2013 8:20:56 PM
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I doubt anyone says climate change is a hoax, Junko. What many of us do wonder, though, is whether it's caused by humans primarily. And I would think anyone should wonder about that.

When CO2 emissions by humans was touted as the cause, any thinking person's first question should have been, how much of the global CO2 daily emissions is caused by humans? No? Why is that never plainly stated?

So, in the Internet era, information like this is easily available, and from multiple sources. The answer is about 3 percent. So now you wonder, is the ecosystem so unstable that 3 percent additonal CO2 is enough to make it go out of kilter? No engineer would design a machine that is that precarious, I wouldn't think. Imagine designing a bridge that collapses if the cars running over it weigh 3 percent more than when it was first built. Ridiculous, right?

So here we are. I'd sooner see a massive global reforestation campaign, instead of these loonie ideas about burying CO2. At least then, all CO2 would be better controlled, not just the tiny amount created by us. And the planet would look better too!

David Ashton
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Blogger
Climate change is.....
David Ashton   11/13/2013 8:52:45 PM
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@Bert... "I doubt anyone says climate change is a hoax, Junko"

Here in Australia we have a Prime Minister who thinks Climate change is crap....does that count?

Sheetal.Pandey
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Manager
Re: Climate change is.....
Sheetal.Pandey   11/14/2013 1:12:47 AM
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Its the need of today's generation and for the survival of coming generations that we start adapting or becoming green in day today activities. It holds good for both the developed nations and developing nations. For developing nations its on critical path as they dont have system to handle waste getting generated. Whether its ewaste, solid or wet waste or climate related. Engineers can make a lot of difference as they always are more analytical and result oriented. I remember a saying from a small child who told this is her speech in United Nations "If not "You" then "Who", If not "Now" then "When", If not "Here" then "WHere"". 

Its our environment and we have to proetect it for us and coming generations.

David Ashton
User Rank
Blogger
Re: Climate change is.....
David Ashton   11/14/2013 2:03:06 AM
@Sheetal - our current government has its usual breathtaking arrogance on climate change and green energy, but even the last govenment (which did at least introduce a price on carbon), was still content to sell tons of coal to China and others.  The current government wants to expand the coal sales AND develop new ports and shipping routes in our Great Barrier Reef national marine park.  Apparently littering the GBR with dredge spill is more important than preserving it for future generations.  Some things are more important than money, but not to our politicians.....

Sheetal.Pandey
User Rank
Manager
Re: Climate change is.....
Sheetal.Pandey   11/14/2013 7:42:38 AM
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@David, so true and well said. Politicians and policy makers forgets that we all are humans and environment affects everyone in a similiar way, for some it might be immediate and for others, I mean these politicians it might take few more years. The pathetic part is that they try to win mileage or have hidden agendas even in the environment related stuff. Sometimes I feel engineers (the real techie guys) should enter politics, will politics change them as a person or they would change the way political system work.... 

Crusty1
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CEO
Energy is nevery cheap
Crusty1   11/14/2013 9:16:42 AM
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@Junko Yodhida: Thank you for a though provoking editorial.

I have had 70 years of survival so far. Probably I have not been as green to the planet as I would have liked, especially where consumption of energy is concerned. I have during this time been a farmer, medical technician and a technician in engineering and electronics.

In all this time I have been painfully aware of the energy I use, mainly because I often do not make enough potential to buy energy from the work I do.

Energy sources that are too cheap will be squandered (time, effort or money), one could almost state this as a natural law.

The problem is that modern domesticated man takes the right to cheap easily available energy as a god given requirement. Governments to stay in power have to make sure energy to squander is cheap. This means that governments actually have less money availble to invest in reducing energy use.

At the biological level, cellular energy harvesting and useage has become well managed with efficiencies that are staggering when compared to a coal power station or even a solar electric panel. Interestingly the cellular time line to reach this level of efficiency is billions of years, and no influnce other than natural selection (no politics or government projects).

So can humanity ramp up it's technology fast enough to stop natural selection from removing them, as an experiment, because they ran out of energy?

 

 

 

Caleb Kraft
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Blogger
between two worlds
Caleb Kraft   11/14/2013 9:25:57 AM
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This is always a tough argument going on in my head. I'm a bit stuck between two worlds.

I absolutely love gadgets and gizmos. I love the technology involved in all of these completely unnecessary things around us. I get giddy thinking about new fancy displays for video games and toys that do fun little tricks. Heck, my JOB has been to share my excitement and to make pointless but fun things (in the past).

 

On the other hand, I see this massive waste that is being encouraged and fed throughout the entire world. We don't need any of this stuff that I love. We are arguably destroying the planet around us for amusements and distractions.  It is impossible to ballance these two opposing views in my mind so I typically just keep my mouth shut and carry on.

zeeglen
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Blogger
Re: Energy is nevery cheap
zeeglen   11/14/2013 10:10:45 AM
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@Crusty1

In all this time I have been painfully aware of the energy I use, mainly because I often do not make enough potential to buy energy from the work I do.

Here's a dumb idea/food for thought:

Years ago one sometimes heard of a parent who connected the family TV to a generator powered by a bicycle pedal arrangement.  The idea was if the kids wanted to watch TV they had to work at it, thus avoiding becoming couch potatoes.

Many health-conscious people belong to exercise gyms/clubs and pay good money to run on treadmills etc.  Their energy gets converted into heat and wasted.  Would it be feasible to connect these exercise machines to the power grid to harness the energy produced by exercising humans instead of wasting it?  Then membership could be free - just provide the energy that the health club can sell to the power grid.  And thus avoid becoming a couch potato without having to pay for it ...

Probably humans could not produce enough energy to make this profitable, but afaik nobody has ever crunched these numbers.

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