Melvin Hurst questions the accuracy of pre-industrial temperature data against the Paris global temperature target of 1.5°C. Although he is correct that reliable measurements of global temperature have only been available since the late 19th century (in fact since the 17th century for England), climatologists use proxies such as isotopes of ice cores, tree rings and other physical records that collectively date back thousands of years. years. Such techniques were used to create the famous “hockey stick graph” (Mann et al, 1999) which was reproduced in the Third Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) to highlight anthropogenic warming. The latest climate science, based on several hundred peer-reviewed studies, can be found in the IPCC’s latest report – AR6 – available free on its website. Also, as an engineer wanting to learn more about climate change, I enrolled in an online MSc Carbon Management course at the University of Edinburgh. I find it extremely enjoyable and highly recommend it to others.
Jon Blaza (M), [email protected]
ICE recently advised us to treat global warming as an emergency, talk about it, understand end users, design right, be creative and build resilience. Talk about teaching granny to suck eggs.
None of the above purports to quantify the challenge of global warming or quantify the measures needed to overcome the problem. Our strength lies in the application of technology, not in the social sciences.
So what is the problem numerically? I call it a problem because no one seems to identify the challenge.
Some say we need to keep global temperature rise to 1.5°C; others talk about reducing global emissions/increasing carbon sequestration, so global warming is less than in 1990. Are we trying to achieve a “carbon budget”? Carbon emissions are surely accumulating each year, so we need to quantify the total acceptable emissions minus those sequestered by carbon capture, which will maintain a balance at the 1.5°C rise by 2050. We shouldn’t ask ourselves “is this fair? but “how can we do it?”.
So assuming the above is defined, as an engineer I would like to know, with currently available technology (I haven’t seen any serious numbers on this), what are the allowable annual emissions from here 2050 and how much carbon capture is practically possible – in tonnes of CO equivalent2?
Perhaps we should focus on the number of wind turbines, electric cars, nuclear power plants, not coal or natural gas, power plants and hydrogen production plants/electric motors needed. Sun and wind seem unlikely to do the job alone. Can ICE put together a small group that can quantify the challenge?
Ian Rogers (M), [email protected]
Melvin Hurst makes a very important point regarding progress in measuring and monitoring global temperatures and comparisons with previous approaches.
There are many other aspects of the current climate change narrative that concern me; politicians and the media cite similarly meaningless statistics that are generally not disputed.
Despite their protests that “the science is settled”, the truth is that many scientists disagree with the general consensus that warming is primarily due to CO2 emissions produced by the world’s major economies.
As a learned society, is ICE able to assess the relative merits of scientific arguments on both sides of the climate debate, before embracing “decarbonization”? too enthusiastic?
Tony Putsman (M), [email protected]
Parallel path potential
As a long-time supervising civil engineer, I welcomed the debate and the excellent special report on the future Chartered Infrastructure Engineer qualification.
An important point for me is also for colleagues currently seeking IEng/CEng MICE qualifications where they find themselves specializing early in their careers.
This specialization may relate to project or business management, project control/planning or, for example, program consulting, etc.
A recurring problem is that such work does not naturally help talented candidates with all the necessary academic training to meet the more technical attributes. This can lead to problems in the exam while also meaning that others simply do not continue their training to qualify.
This is so disappointing and a loss for everyone involved, including the profession/ICE. I have a feeling the Chartered Infrastructure Engineer approach could help.
I’m wondering if the Certified Infrastructure Engineer training and that of the current charter route could largely run in parallel, but have attribute options with the Certified Infrastructure Engineer having alternate attributes ( no less a test – but less knowledge / technical solutions in civil engineering dominated) to meet the certified bar. This could allow a lot of the training/attributes to be common to both (and benefit from the same infrastructure) but with different paths to follow for a few key attributes – especially nearing the exam .
Peter Radford (F), [email protected]
More necessary than a simple crossing
Referring to previous letters regarding a tunnel or bridge between England, Wales or Scotland and the island of Ireland, such a development would most likely result in increased traffic volumes, with additional congestion associated on the existing overloaded infrastructure of Northern Ireland. The existing road system is in urgent need of improvement and bypasses in several places. A fraction of the quoted estimate of £200-300bn for such a move would be a prerequisite for any future development.
Hugo McCracken (M), [email protected]
Could energy storage be the key?
We see lots of articles on renewable energy, cement substitutes, energy demand management, electric vehicles, recycling and much more, but nothing on energy storage.
The main renewables – solar and wind – are unreliable, nuclear is constant but not scalable, so what needs to be developed is large-scale energy storage.
The balance between supply and demand has been managed by the flexibility of gas-fired power plants, but that will no longer be an option as we move to net zero. A technical review of energy storage, options, development status and how these could be implemented at scale is certainly now needed.
Keith Hitchcock (F), [email protected]
Offers at the lowest price and complaints from contractors
First, I would like to explain to Mike Keatinge that the reason public authorities should choose the lowest bid is to avoid the possibility of corruption between a contractor and a public employee responsible for awarding contracts. I would also like to point out that each public authority has lists of preferred contractors for different types of work.
I agree that contractors who bid low will look for every opportunity to generate extras and will often submit claims.
“Determining Claims Delays and Disruptions” was the subject of my PhD thesis which analyzed data from 1,141 claims settlements and used excerpts from 60 to illustrate specific claims leaders.
Since contractors’ claims are often grossly exaggerated, and this does not seem to matter in arbitration proceedings where, in the English legal system, costs follow the event, even a small award means that the contractor is awarded costs against the employer.
In order to make the system fairer, I have published four articles on alternative cost allocation systems in Arbitration. They propose that costs be awarded to the party whose position is closest to the arbitrator’s decision.
Forcing the parties’ positions to converge would promote rapid settlement and, in the event of settlement failure, by encouraging the parties to adopt more realistic positions, it would tend to reduce the time and cost of the arbitration procedure.
Richard Bloore (M), [email protected]
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