of engineering to this area of research and development represents another boundary that limits the potential integration of the disciplines. The systematic understanding of ecosystems can hardly be a branch of engineering independent of, and parallel to, other engineering fields. Rather, it would seem that all engineering fields should redefine their disciplinary specializations in terms of their respective systems' places in ecosystems. Rather than a new subfield or discipline destined to take its place alongside existing specialties, the ecological model really is better understood as informing all subfields. It is this same ubiquity or inescapability that, I think, catches the attention of engineering students. The impact of ecology looks more like the constraints of thermodynamics than like the opportunity for a new branch of the profession.

If we accept the need to face ecological constraints, the fundamental recognition must be that the economy and the industrial system exist within and depend on the ecosystem. Accordingly, twenty-first-century engineering and development must challenge industrial gigantism and expanding control and scale with a commitment to reengineer the developed world to have less impact on ecosystems.

In practical terms, engineering within ecological constraints means turning engineering away from natural systems and back onto previously engineered systems. Two easy suggestions would be to follow Amory Lovins's recommendation to "wring more efficiency" out of existing technologies and Herman Daly's recommendation to substitute development for growth.

Finally, a metaphor might serve better than a list of recommendations. The treatment of wildlife by civilized societies has seen two conflicting models, the zoo and the wildlife refuge. In the former, wild natural creatures are brought into civilized, developed settings; in the latter, wild areas are set aside to be protected and undeveloped, and civilization makes small unobtrusive outposts that (at least in theory) do not upset the ecosystem that supports the wild area. The lesson for future engineering is obvious. Wild creatures don't survive in zoos. The zoo model must be displaced by the wildlife refuge. In place of specimens from the wild transplanted into our engineered world (which we don't do well), we need to reengineer our artificial world and tidily insert it into an otherwise protected and undisturbed global ecosystem.

Notes

1.  

From "The New Age," an address delivered at the Perkin Medal Meeting, Society of Chemical Industry, Chemists' Club, New York, January 24, 1913, by Rossiter W. Raymond, quoting "a statement uttered by me ten years ago, in an address on the Dynamics and Ethics of Engineering. It is so delightful to be able to reiterate without change an opinion ten years old." [That is the reason for the quotation marks in the text above—quoting himself.] In The Journal of Industrial and Engineering Chemistry, March 1913, pp. 249-251.

2.  

One obvious exception might be the view of natural systems as "unproductive," which generated a kind of restless urge to improve them, whether by irrigating arid lands or draining wetlands.



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