This article by Oliver Morton in The Economist stresses the human element of curbing greenhouse gas emissions. Although technological breakthroughs will occur, and be most welcome, we can’t rely on them to provide new energy systems as quickly as we need them. What is required is large numbers of people trained to design and build them. The coal industry will need to multiply many times its carbon capture and storage (CCS) capacity, and the nuclear industry will need thousands of nuclear engineers and regulators if it is to expand. The renewable sector is better off because it lends itself to production lines, and retrofitting to decentralization, yet both will have to compete for designers and engineers. Governments need to reexamine their subsidies to other high-tech industries, in order to create a more level playing field. They also need to encourage young idealists to choose engineering as a career.
Would you dine out in a repurposed coal plant? Or play basketball in a community center that once emitted massive amounts of carbon into the atmosphere? Or meet classmates on campus at the new union building that spewed out black smoke for years? Many of the folks who