Our December 12 edition of Motion Monitor garnered many responses about carbon footprints and the green movement. Read on to see what engineers think about eco-friendly cars, locally grown food, and more.
It's just the beginning
Very nice and pertinent questions you have posed about carbon consciousness. I am a subscriber to your excellent sister magazine, Machine Design, with its superb coverage of the science, technology, and engineering of the various mechanical engineering fields including the subject of motion, which you cover in Motion Monitor. But this is the first time it seems you have thought of directing the readers to perhaps the most important design criterion that every engineer should consider first in any contemporary design. I wish to direct the attention of not only your editors, but everyone interested in an all-encompassing engineering system, to visit the following website for my thoughts on the questions posed:
Charles H. Tankersley
I'm a design engineer designing flex connectors for automotive exhaust applications. These are my conclusions regarding all the buzzwords, such as “carbon footprint” associated with “global warming.”
I see these environmental efforts as a way to force the general population and individuals in particular to follow a world-view shared by a few self-proclaimed gurus. This is not to say that global warming may not be an issue, but that all these efforts to shape our future to some particular view will lead to enslavement of individuals. Obviously, force will need to be used as an incentive to follow the prescribed rules. If global warming is real, then the solution should be achieved only through educating our young and old to exercise reason and then the results will be through individuals willingly and reasonably exercising their right to choice. What I see coming in the not too distant future is a police state, worse than it is now. The pressure to control individual actions will increase and this will invariably lead to more unrest. It seems we are to revisit the mistakes of old.
It's only natural
These comments may seem to have nothing to do with engineering design, but the fact is that design work involves a lot of freedom to choose if it is to lead to innovation. It's this loss of freedom to choose that worries me greatly.
Italo De Blasi
Although there is reasonable evidence the earth is warming, so are other planets. For more than a million years, the earth has experienced warming and cooling periods.
From ice core evidence, carbon dioxide increase follows global warming instead of causing it. As a consequence, worrying about global warming is a waste of time; it isn't caused by man, but is a natural and historically beneficial process.
Having said that, continuing to send huge amounts of money to people who hate America and all it stands for doesn't make sense either. Choosing a vehicle that has the best gas mileage for one's needs makes sense. But as the demands for oil increase its price, the market will do a much better job of balancing the needs of the people vs. oil usage than CAFÉ ratings (required fleet average mpg that auto makers must meet).
We need balanced information in the following five areas and need proof that what they claim are true:
- Humans caused global warming
- Global warming is actually a detriment
- The gains/losses of global warming are reversible
- Global warming is reversible
- The sun is not the source of global warming
The scientific community is not unified on human-induced global warming whereas cycles of solar-induced warming are a historical fact of the geological record. About every 10,000 years, sun spot activity directly affects the rate of cloud cover formation, which has a significantly greater impact on warming than does human activity. Think of this a different way: Suppose all humans decided to increase the temperature of Earth by spewing as much carbon dioxide into the air as possible; since we only produce 0.5% of all the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, it would never work. By the same token, attempting to reduce Earth's temperature by altering our minuscule sliver of carbon contribution is equally futile. The historical record would indicate that there are larger forces at work, namely the sun.
Waste not, want not
Many of us seem to look at only part of the energy equation. For example, a friend of mine drives a micro-car that gets about 38 mpg, and he travels 44 miles each way to work, using (44 × 2 / 38) or 2.3 gal of gas every day. My SUV gets about 17 mpg; I drive 14 miles each way to work, using (14 × 2 / 17) or 1.6 gal of gas daily. So which one of us is “wasting” fuel?