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Society's conscience


In an early comment on the 11 September WTC attack, Gordon Masterton (NCE, 20 September) finished with the bigger question that 'this is an issue of security, of politics, of the resolution of deep conflicts'.

Since then, I have seen much technical engineering discussion in NCE, but nothing on the engineers' role in those bigger questions. I hope that is not because engineers consider that they are none of their business.

We are becoming more aware of the need to balance the sustainability dimensions of economics, environment and society. We know all about economics, and are getting a much better handle on environment, but continue to find the society bit hard to define.

Every project has an overall impact that can reduce, or increase, the growth and the hostility of the disaffected. But often, project choices have not properly taken their feelings into account. Our emotional distance; lack of direct experience and use of bland language have helped to insulate us from the real impact of our choices on real people.

If we are to take our part of the responsibility to stop more 11 September's, we must include the disaffected in our reality, and make our project choices with them in mind.

Charles Ainger (F), 25 Palliser Road, Chalfont St Giles, Bucks, HP8 4DL

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