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Cry wolf


Asking engineers about the state of the nation - or indeed how to care for the planet - strikes me as being a bit like asking the wolves how to look after the sheep.

Engineers may have immense talents at their disposal, but trusting them to apply them in a socially and environmentally responsible way is another matter.

Despite some worthy rhetoric, we're still far more interested in showing off the skills at our disposal than exploring how best to use them. How else can we explain the fact that with the threat of climate change hanging over us we have just given an award for the construction of a ski resort built in a scorching desert that uses 'a mere 2.6MW' of energy?

Sustainable evelopment for most engineers seems to go no further than just doing whatever the client asks for, but a bit less unsustainably than before.

Many consider that students should study for an extra year at university to improve their sums. May I suggest that an extra year may be better spent teaching them how best to use their formidable talents for the benet of sustainable development - a bit of wolf taming may help.

Of course, the wolf could be developed into a more trustworthy animal with some selective breeding, but I'm not sure whether mating with the Institution of Mechanical Engineers - a wolf pack in another valley - will produce much better offspring.

We need to think much more radically - maybe a profession whose members are trained to look at issues more holistically and has been charged with delivering sustainable development for over 14 years.

Royal own lanning Institute anyone?

Anthony Weight (M) aweight@onetel. com

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