Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Headless gets results

From Ken Green at Planet Gore.
To the fellow who took offense at my slagging engineers for elevating engineering efficiency over morality, well, you're right. I should have said that "this is the problem with many engineers who wade into public-policy debates." I know a lot of engineers are pragmatists and straight-thinkers. But I've found that the ones drawn to public policy (and I also include scientists in this) tend to ignore (or are unaware of) the fundamentals of good public-policy design. So for the activist climate scientist, only a linear response to climate change is acceptable: if putting emissions up causes change, you must stop putting emissions up. You can't think about accepting some change, and mitigating other change, or some downstream sequestration, or geo-engineering. If these people were physicians, and a patient complained of stomach pain from eating, they'd insist the only answer was to give up eating. And, a disclaimer: my doctorate is in environmental science and engineering. I'm doubly damned.
I see Ken's distinction now. He deals with academics and think-tankers, I deal with real-world engineers.

I do think Mr. Green's efficiency vs. morality comparison hit the wrong target. In my experience, it is management who makes that call, not engineers. Engineers are left making cost-benefit recommendations based on the resources they are budgeted.

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