There is a great urgency all over the world for engineers of the future to develop the world with great consideration of our planet’s carrying capacity. Being an engineering major I have a responsibility to contribute for the creation of not only a developed but a green and a healthy place to live in. The dependency of even the world’s largest economies like that of United States on non-renewable resources like oil and petroleum is alarming to say the least.
But still many politicians actively raise voices denying the entire science of climate change. 56 percentage of congressional republicans deny or question climate change and thus label it as a meager issue. Global warming, ozone depletion, greenhouse effect etc. can’t be considered as mere speculations anymore. For example, the composition of the pernicious gas carbon dioxide has never been as high as this for the past four thousand years.
Likewise, the temperature of our planet has risen roughly 1.33 degree Fahrenheit over the past century. If the increase in temperature remains the same our grandchildren won’t be able to call our planet their home. Similarly, sea levels all over the planet’s oceans have been growing at a dangerous rate of 1.77 mm/yr. Most of the world’s population resides in the coastal areas, so the rising sea level is certain to create catastrophes all over the world.
The greedy oil corporations and politicians try to scare the public of renewable energy sources corporations with the warning of an economic collapse. The book “The Green Collar Economy” written by Van jones spreads light on the ways we can go green without compromising the economy. Jones in his book focuses especially in the situation of the United States where the government is funding massive oil corporations due to which its whole economy is destined to fall if no actions are taken.
The possibility of a green economy might sound like a farfetched dream but with everybody’s corporation it can be a reality. The government and the public need to work together. A great example of Sweden is in the foreword section of the green collar economy. Sweden decarbonized their economy in 2006 and because of that thousands of entrepreneurs rushed to develop new ways of generating energy from non-renewable resources like the sun, wind, tides etc. Their economy took a downturn but slowly recovered. So, now the then heavily taxed Swedish economy is the world’s eight richest in terms of the GDP. The world along with the United States have to learn from examples like this to develop efficient policies addressing climate change. Jones writes that the economy and energy prices are closely related with each other and as the carbon based energy sources deplete the prices will go up and consequently the economy will take a downturn and eventually collapse. Jones writes, “Whom do we love and care about more? Our children—and their immediate need for a viable economy? Or our grandchildren— and their long-term need for a viable planet? (Jones, 2008, C.1 p.4)”. So, he wants to make it clear that the planet is more important than the economy but jones points out the two problems go hand in hand and might be solved by one solution. The solution that he suggests is the need of a Green new deal where the pivotal role is for green entrepreneurs whereas the government only has a limited role to play which is to show the way. This would not only help us to protect the planet we live in but also make the economy stable. The government will also have to increase their investment on alternative energy resources thereby increasing the number of green jobs and also decreasing its reliability on other non-renewable resources.
The dream of a green economy can only be possible with the involvement of all socio-economic divisions of our society. We have a common conception that the talk of green economy is only limited to the elite components of the society but the truth is far away from this. Jones proposes Eco-Equity by which every member of the society black or white, rich or poor is to be included in the plan. But this is never the case, even in a country like United States the government provides the first priority to the rich and the poor minorities are always somewhat neglected. Jones provides the example of Katrina, a massive hurricane that hit New Orleans in 2005 and the reaction of the government to it. The poor community, the majority of whom were black. As they didn’t have cars and money they couldn’t even cross a bridge. The government stood there watching. People with money and cars fled the area to safety whereas those who didn’t had to either sink or swim. Jones writes, “Wages, wealth, health, homes, schooling, fairness in the courts, youth opportunity: the low performance and disparities in these categories are both shocking and shameful… They represent a serious system failure— one that we must muster the will and the courage to correct (Jones, 2008, C.1, P.29).” Jones views radical socioeconomic inequality as a major factor in the development of a green world economy. He also mentions the time when the Native Americans lived here about how they cared for the earth and exploited the resources with great consideration to the state of natural resources around them. Jones urges everyone to follow the example set in the past by the Natives to create a better future for the planet.
However there is a great number that think that climate change, global warming, etc. are just guesses and that it would be foolish to make policies for them. There are some people in the world who think Jones is making informed guesses which are not enough to show the urgent need to change America’s dependence on oil. Michael Crichton in his book, “State of Fear” writes that there is no urgent need to change our policies regarding climate change. He writes,” Before making expensive policy decisions on the basis of climate models, I think it is reasonable to require that those models predict future temperatures accurately for a period of ten years. Twenty would be better. I suspect the people of 2100 will be much richer than we are, consume more energy, have a smaller global population, and enjoy more wilderness than we have today. I don’t think we have to worry about them (Crichton, 2004, P.32). “Reading the Green collar book I think Crichton would disagree with the urgency in which Jones wants the government to create policies and stop investing in oil companies. I think Crichton would comment and criticize Jones to be too far sighted. However Crichton’s views have been criticized by a number of scientists and experts. Dr. Jeffrey master, a famous meteorologist describes Crichton’s arguments and examples as misleading presentations of global warming. I also think that Crichton statements are baseless as the adverse effects of climate change are evident. The ozone hole over Antarctica in 1980s was an alarming sight and so, I do think we need to start now instead of waiting for more time.
In my opinion the climate change deniers are just acting according to the human nature of denying change. Everybody is resistant to change and it will take time for people to realize that climate change is a fact. It is either that or it is a plot by the greedy politicians and the multibillion oil corporations to deny or question the legitimacy of climate change. They fear that they might lose to renewable energy corporations and thus deny climate change. Greenpeace organization reports that the Koch Brothers, an oil corporation, have sent at least $79,048,951 to groups that deny climate change. Like the Koch Brothers many other oil corporations are doing the same thing and thus preventing large scale investment on renewable energy sources.
Engineers have a great responsibility to lead the way to a green world through sustainable construction. Neither money nor progress is more important than the protection of our planet. Nobody is going to take care of our planet for us so, we need to start today and make efforts for a green planet. Even though there are some corrupt politicians who will tell you climate change is a fairytale, there is hope. There are politicians and governments trying to combat the climate change to create an ideal world. The New York Times recently reported Tom Steyer, a liberal billionaire, planning to spend 100 million dollars to make climate change a top-tier issue in the election. Similarly, the EU is also taking major steps like the European Climate Change Programme (ECCP) for a greener world. The economy will take a downturn when we switch to greener ways but we need to stay firm on what we believe. In the long run our economy will be stable and along with that our planet will be able to provide for our grandchildren. But engineers alone cannot make a difference. Not even the government is powerful enough to create a green world by itself. The rich and the poor, the majority and the minority, the government and all of its subjects need to come together and then can the prospect of green world can come to life.