Beyond the context that spawned the 1989 report there are new perspectives that have introduced new needs and shifted priorities. Some of these perspectives have been discussed in this chapter and more are discussed in Chapter 4. The globalization of the economy and of our political and social environment is also a major force driving these new needs and shifting priorities. For example, rather than focusing solely on discovery and recovery of U.S. natural resources, geoengineering today must focus on global resource recovery issues and global effects of resource use. The new emphasis on sustainable development reflects the growing recognition of the forces of globalization on society and the role of the engineer. None of these issues can be considered individually because of the complex interrelationships among them. For instance, pressures from globalization impact homeland security needs, and homeland security needs impact both infrastructure development requirements and the availability of resources for infrastructure development, rehabilitation, and maintenance. There remains a host of fundamental challenges in understanding the behavior of soils and rocks and of structures composed of soil and rock that need to be addressed by geoengineers in order to more effectively deal with these issues.
The United States and the world need geoengineers and need advances in their abilities to understand, manage and design in, on, and with Earth. Geoengineering is crucial to addressing essential national and global needs, including infrastructure development and sustainability, the availability and reliability of our civil structures, provision of homeland security, protection from natural hazards, and expanding our frontiers of knowledge. The following chapters will address this future. Chapter 3 examines the potential of new tools that might help to solve geoengineering problems in new and efficient ways. Chapter 4 looks at an expansion of the traditional geoengineering role into supporting the emerging fields of sustainability and Earth Systems Engineering (ESE). In Chapter 5 we examine the institutional issues at the National Science Foundation and universities that affect the attainment of the vision described in Chapters 3 and 4.