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!
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.
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.
Drones are, in essence, flying autonomous vehicles. Pros and cons surrounding drones today might well foreshadow the debate over the development of self-driving cars. In the context of a strongly regulated aviation industry, "self-flying" drones pose a fresh challenge. How safe is it to fly drones in different environments? Should drones be required for visual line of sight – as are piloted airplanes? Join EE Times' Junko Yoshida as she moderates a panel of drone experts.