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Practice imperfect


Criticism of civil engineering practice and the profession's abdication of responsibility at Civils 2002 is hardly surprising when one studies the ICE's recent action plan - Society, sustainability and civil engineering.

The plan declares civil engineers are not responsible for finding answers to problems of future needs. Balancing social, economic and environmental impacts is, the report says, a planning problem, for others to solve.

Yet ICE's SAID report in 1996 did not advocate economic growth, per se, it addressed issues. Who decided to change the institution's approach to sustainability between 1996 and 2002?

Economic growth serves short-term economic interests only, rather than harmonious sustainability. It is technically impossible for economic growth not to destroy biodiversity. The institution should not support inconsistent policy without question.

Historically, the aim of civil engineers was to control nature, provide the most efficient infrastructure, and move materials about to maximise economic advantage.

The impact of increasing consumption is not balanced by tree planting and creating grassland.

Economic activity, infrastructure and construction has to change fundamentally.

Does the profession accept a responsibility to point this out to clients and government?

Pat Toms (M), 68 Shakespeare Street, Glasgow G20 8TJ

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