@eb1225: I like your approach to mapping out the engineering problem as a means of mitigating risk. I agree with your assessment of it being a moral and prudent responsibility to factor it into design just as you would any other requirement or criteria. To ignore completely, would be dangerous disregard.
The key thing to understand here is that even this group of scientists and engineers who signed the editorial are not denying that anthropogenic global warming is occurring, they are simply saying that those who are directing the debate are overstating its significance. They, in fact, are tacitly agreeing that it IS occurring, just not as rapidly as many claim. And the conclusion they draw from that is that we may not need to panic over it, even though it is real and will cause some changes in the world around us.
I teach my students in Engineering Ethics that global warming should be thought of in terms of RISK. Codes of ethics for engineers direct engineers to keep risks to the public within acceptable limits. There are no certainties with global warming, but given the evidence that specialists in climate have amassed, it seems clear that the probability that our activities are heating the planet is quite high, certainly greater than 0.5. Further, given the evidence we have so far, the probability is high (again greater than 0.5) that an increase in the average global temperature of the lower atmosphere (and oceans and lakes) of even 2 or 3 degrees C compared to pre-industrial times will cause a great amount of harm overall. The risk (probability of harm multiplied by the magnitude of harm), then, posed by global warming is quite high even if nothing is certain. It is prudent and morally responsible to do something serious to reduce these risks. It is imprudent and morally irresonsible to do nothing.
If we do little or nothing to control the causes of global warming because it isn't certain that we are causing global warming or certain that it will cause a lot more harm than good, isn't it a little like a drunk who says it's OK for him to drive because it's not certain that he will get into an accident?
Instead of engaging in ad hominem arguments to demonize scientists who believe global warming is a serious problem ("global warming alarmists"?) or to demonize those who do not, we should focus on the evidence and the risks.
It is possible that man made items are causing global warming / climate change which is changing the world in which we live. It is also possible that it is not. As an ME, I am not really not in a learned enough position to know the answer. However, it is repulsive that one group of scientists would so agressively demonize a different group of scientists for offering a dissenting opinion. Hopefully, both sides can come to some sort of a middle ground, but I am not too optimistic.
Great, thought provoking post, Chuck. I am no where near schooled or well-enough read to profess any kind of substanitive opinion on the reality (or not) of global warming. I am human enough to see that there are gigantic weather pattern changes and an alarming uptick in natural disasters--all enough to warrant an on-going and thorough examination of the connection between these events and the possibility of global warning.
I recently spoke with some experts on a story for a different topic and the point was made that industry is so focused on the impact of carbon to the exclusion of other, very real and compelling environmental concerns, including design for disassembly. Recyclability and waste, they argued, might be a bigger environmental factor than carbon.
As energy efficiency becomes more and more a concern for makers of electronics devices, researchers are coming up with new ways to harvest energy from sound vibration, footsteps, and even electromagnetic fields in the air.
The government wants to study your brain, and DARPA wants to use similar information to give robots true autonomy beyond any artificial intelligence developed to date. Sound like science fiction? It's not.
A quick look into the merger of two powerhouse 3D printing OEMs and the new leader in rapid prototyping solutions, Stratasys. The industrial revolution is now led by 3D printing and engineers are given the opportunity to fully maximize their design capabilities, reduce their time-to-market and functionally test prototypes cheaper, faster and easier. Bruce Bradshaw, Director of Marketing in North America, will explore the large product offering and variety of materials that will help CAD designers articulate their product design with actual, physical prototypes. This broadcast will dive deep into technical information including application specific stories from real world customers and their experiences with 3D printing. 3D Printing is