• Richard Bruges

Invest in engineering to save the planet

Have you noticed the shift in public mood and understanding of climate change over the last three years? Whether it is caused by media friendly individuals such as Greta Thunberg and David Attenborough or by carefully considered treatises such as Project Drawdown, awareness and discussion is certainly rising.


Climate change and the sustainability of life on earth seem to be among the few subjects that can displace Covid 19, Trump and Brexit from the headlines. As Paul Hawken and his collaborators emphasise in Drawdown, we need to revise our approach to solving the challenges of climate change.


While the consequences of doing nothing are likely to be disastrous for future generations, doing something can actually be economically beneficial, as well as environmentally. In short, we can make money and save the planet.

Having spent the last ten years working in the field of sustainability, I am encouraged by this shift in awareness and interest. Even those who remain unconvinced by the science of climate change accept that there are finite resources on this planet and that we should do everything we can to use them efficiently.


Increasingly, leaders are also acknowledging that engineering is essential to develop the solutions we need. Apps and algorithms can provide some of the solutions by encouraging behaviour change, particularly in industrialised economies, but we actually need dramatic shifts in efficiency of our fundamental systems in transport, power generation, manufacturing and agriculture to enable us to reduce environmental impact while maintaining anything like our current level of prosperity.


Investment in clean engineering must increase if we are to achieve this level of change. Unfortunately, large established organisations are programmed to prevent the development of anything that threatens to disrupt their core business and underfunded SMEs will also fail.


We need a different approach, which is what Clean Engineering is all about.

 


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