Entering the Ecological Age: The Engineer’s Role

Peter Head of Arup on the challenges presented by climate change, and in particular from an engineer’s point of view, the importance of the cultural dimension.

72B9BD7D-19BB-316E-40000ADE36037C13.pdf (application/pdf Object).

From the Executive Summary:

In recent decades it has dawned on many of us that there can be no viable future for humanity without a healthy planet. Earth, water and air support the existence of an immensely complex living system, powered by the sun. We are part of this web of life. But within a few generations, we are using up most of the earth’s stored fossil fuel resources and their transfer from the earth to the atmosphere is signifi cantly altering its composition. Our globalising economic system is destabilising the planet’s life-support systems- the very systems that support us and the future of our children.

The direct impacts of this on human development, plus rising food and resource costs mean that current economic growth is rapidly becoming unsustainable and a global transition is underway to the ecological age of human civilisation.

This paper carefully analyses current global knowledge in an attempt to see if and how we can reach a sustainable future. The conclusion is that we could move to a sustainable way of living within environmental limits over the next few decades, allowing for continued human development and population growth, whilst adapting to climate change impacts.

An Ecological Age by 2050 will have:

• CO2 Emissions Reduction of 80%;

• Ecological Footprint of 1.44 gha/capita;

• Human Development Index increase.

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