Michael Thompson has just published a Comment (access the article by clicking here) on my recently published Sustainability Concepts Paper. He suggests I am challenging the charter of august professional engineering institutions. How have they defined what they do as a “benefit to mankind”? He is, I venture to suggest, “poking something of a stick into the lion’s cage”.
It is the purpose of Comments in this journal (SAPIENS, of the Institut Veolia Environnement) to be provocative, especially about articles and books that might otherwise not be widely publicized or readily accessed. Naturally I welcome this. But, as I wrote the Concepts Paper, I had not seen myself as crafting and issuing such a challenge to Engineering. Moreover, as the years pass by, the more proud I become of my having been trained as an Engineer.
What do you think?
Contributed by M. B. Beck
Albert Einstein said once that “we can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them”. If we choose to agree with Einstein, then shouldn’t we indeed look at reinventing engineering altogether, in which case the poking in the Lion’s cage should be more than welcome? Having myself done my PhD work on the ‘old and now much denigrated water-based paradigm’, I find the Concepts Paper stimulating. It has indeed become difficult to completely disassociate engineering from the different ‘social constructions of the man-nature relationship’. Taking into account all of these social constructions will only make the emergent solutions more robust and sustainable. The question that arises now is: why cities are not getting on the bandwagon and starting to use this? Why don’t the UN and World Bank move into implementing the proposed approaches? I shall wait and see what the answers will be …