Choice of method

23 December 2019

One of the important things to remember about science is that it is always refining. While a field advances, improved data collection and the interpretation of studies brings the model we base our understanding on closer to reality.

If you are not intimately familiar with a field, your awareness of it can slip. Climate change is one such example.

While it is a fact that carbon emissions contribute to a greenhouse effect, and that the majority view of the scientific community has been that human emissions have been a major cause of this since the 1960s, there were still legitimate positions held by doubters until about 2005. It is not long ago, but this period has passed.

Climate change is now taught as an example of how a scientific consensus emerged out of competing viewpoints. Despite vested interests, increased observation of the environment, coupled with a growing sophistication in the measurements taken by climate scientists have put this beyond doubt (barring the intellectually honest caveat that nothing is truly beyond doubt). It is here, we are facing it.

As we prepare to enter the 2020s, we are faced with the realisation that we are affecting our ability to maintain a global civilisation as we currently know it. We cannot solve this problem by simply changing our habits, that is not realistic.

We are dependent upon as-yet unknown scientific advancements to reverse the damage that we have already done. All we can do is buy time for this to happen. Hopefully.

A lot of media coverage has been given to air travel in recent months, but that is not our domain. Construction is, and it can play its part too.

In this issue, we have an article from the German Engineering Federation (VDMA) which represents the construction equipment manufacturers of Europe’s most powerful nation.

In it, the VDMA details new technologies for reducing carbon emissions that are being worked on by its member companies. The VDMA emphasises the importance of approaching the problem not just from a manufacturing point of view, but also from the use of alternative fuels sources, and even the effect of operating practices.

In the words of the federation, even a poorly-trained operator can make even the most state-of-the-art construction equipment look “out of place”. It is the responsibility of the contractor to make sure machinery is operated by properly trained staff.