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Rearranging the deck chairs while the ship sinks

  • 1.  Rearranging the deck chairs while the ship sinks

    Posted 05-17-2022 04:42 PM

    The article in today's Source Water crisis, power cuts worsen misery in Pakistan's hottest city Jacobabad in arid Sindh province is in the grip of an intense heatwave – peaking at 51 degrees Celsius at the weekend caught my attention. This situation and associated misery, suffering and undoubtedly fatalities certainly gives one pause. Furthermore, it makes some of the issues de jour pale in comparison. It feels like we are rearranging the deck chairs while the ship sinks.  I'm not sure what specific actions CEs can take. At a minimum, I think developing literacy in global events and having a world view is essential to be an engineer in the 21st century. What do others think?



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    Mitch Winkler P.E., M.ASCE
    Houston, TX
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  • 2.  RE: Rearranging the deck chairs while the ship sinks

    Posted 05-18-2022 08:02 AM
    Having witnessed what long-graduated students retain from their schooling and what insight current students get from their schooling (some haven't learned the content, let alone extrapolate from it), I do not believe that education will help. Politics and systemic influences (say a company that makes plastic or even paper bags) make it very difficult for individuals to translate their convictions into action, especially in political systems where the popular will is not represented (say a country where 30% of the population will soon elect 70% of certain representatives). Where subject literacy is viewed skeptically as indoctrination attempts, it's hard to see education practices revamped anyway.

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    Tsee Lee, A.M.ASCE
    United States
    New York, NY
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  • 3.  RE: Rearranging the deck chairs while the ship sinks

    Posted 05-23-2022 11:06 AM
    Middle and Southern Pakistan has always been hot areas in summers. The record of highest temperature on earth is also held by the city of Jacobabad (Jacob-abad) in the province of Sindh. But other area of Pakistan like southern Punjab also face this acute heat wave in summers every year. When the British colonized the sub-continent, they used to send their "non-conforming" bureaucrats in this area as a sort of punishment. So one Mr Jacob was also sent here as Deputy Commissioner and hence the name Jacob-abad.

    Now coming to the problem. The rains in most of Pakistan are seasonal starting generally in end May till September. Almost 80% of the annual rainfall happens during this period. The major hydropower dams that also act as storage, fill their reservoirs during this period. As most of the water is used for agriculture, hence for the winter crops water is released and during March-April and part of May, the reservoirs are almost depleted and along with it the dip in hydropower generation. With the advent of summers, the demand of electricity also rises due to use of air conditioners. Though Pakistan has both fuel based thermal plants and nuclear plants, these do not fill the gap between the demand and supply of electricity. Efforts are underway to solve this problem. The climate change is also having an effect as the pattern of rains is changing as is the shift in the pattern of seasons, with the increase in maximum temperatures.

    As a developing country, Pakistan is trying to meet these challenges. At present three mega dam projects are under construction including a 272 m high RCC dam (Diamer Basha)  on the Indus River with an installed capacity of 4500 MW and reservoir capacity 8 BCM, Mohmad Dam ( 242 m high CFRD) on Swat river with installed capacity of 800 MW and Dasu dam (RCC) on Indus river with an installed capacity of 4320 MW, in addition to scores of others. In addition the government has started and completed the world renowned "Billion Tree" project in which the trees were planted to mitigate the effects of climate change.

    Tahir M. Hayat, Ph.D., P.E, MASCE
    Lahore, Pakistan

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    Tahir Hayat Ph.D., P.E., M.ASCE
    Chief Executive
    Nespak
    Lahore
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  • 4.  RE: Rearranging the deck chairs while the ship sinks

    Posted 05-26-2022 12:17 AM
    Yes. As much as I marvel at the engineering that builds dams, they do have a downside.

    I read recently about the changing rainfalls from monsoons. https://www.bbc.com/future/article/20220517-the-uncertain-fate-of-asias-monsoons

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    Tsee Lee, A.M.ASCE
    United States
    New York, NY
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  • 5.  RE: Rearranging the deck chairs while the ship sinks

    Posted 05-31-2022 08:01 AM
    Government should be working on many more small dams to store rain water and produce electricity in the mountains of Baluchistan area.

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    Syed Masood P.E., M.ASCE
    Construction Maanger II
    Franklin WI
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  • 6.  RE: Rearranging the deck chairs while the ship sinks

    Posted 05-24-2022 03:24 PM
    A world view is absolutely essential, granted, suspicion of education slipping into indoctrination is a problem, but a world view is what management definitely needs and hopefully a majority of executives in engineering firms are not purely financial or legal majors because this barge is listing pretty badly and damage control isn't reporting. I have to ask some CEO's "do you  actually have children?, and their future is???" when they export engineering hours, close up shop, liquidate tooling, take a bonus and run. A world view says that's just not healthy in the long run. You goin' down bud. CE's, ME's, Chem E's, whatever, need to raise concern. We're not stupid. We've seen industrial arts disappear from high school curriculums, industry after industry shipped out, corporate officers take an exorbitant bonus, then exit leaving our colleagues with a life changing event. A world view says everywhere this has happened before has become a client state, not for the better. The disparity between wage earners and upper tiers widens. No thanks, I like democracy, I like opportunity, I like my profession and the economy it built. I am not about rearranging the deck chairs, I know elsewhere in the world people are desperate to gain an advantage because they are under the thumb of opportunists instead of a halo of opportunity. I want the problem confronted. That's not an extreme view and I'm not alone.

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    William Bala P.E., S.E., M.ASCE
    Owner
    Hawkins TX
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  • 7.  RE: Rearranging the deck chairs while the ship sinks

    Posted 05-27-2022 12:17 AM
    Excellent points. You are not alone.
    Navigating the opportunist, trusting and being trusted. Change can be a dangerous business when it has the potential to interfere with the financial dealings of the status quo no matter the country; resulting in Charitable paralysis.
    Over 30 years ago, talk was that this country was moving to a focus on management and reduction in skilled labor. How and why did high school systems systematically eliminate industrial and vocational arts programs? Where is that 4-H program with a focus on future farmers? All of which creates a challenge for self-reliance or personal independence.
    I will check out the article.

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    James Williams P.E., M.ASCE
    Principal/Owner
    POA&M Structural Engineering, PLC
    Yorktown, VA
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  • 8.  RE: Rearranging the deck chairs while the ship sinks

    Posted 05-31-2022 08:01 AM
    Ah yes FFA, Future Farmer's, we know we need them, so maybe all the doom and gloom about farming as a future needs to be dealt with. effectively. Good points. The high school I went to had an avid FFA program, still lots of farms in the area. I wonder if the FFA program is still going, or as strong as it was. The loss of industrial arts to me is just painful. If you don't want to buy every manufactured item via container ship, well training is where it starts.

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    William Bala P.E., S.E., M.ASCE
    Owner
    Hawkins TX
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  • 9.  RE: Rearranging the deck chairs while the ship sinks

    Posted 30 days ago
    No one wants to train for jobs that don't exist. No one can fund such a jobs program without a demand from employers.

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    Tsee Lee, A.M.ASCE
    General Services Administration
    New York, NY
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  • 10.  RE: Rearranging the deck chairs while the ship sinks

    Posted 30 days ago
    No one wants jobs to go out of existence because employers are busy contracting them abroad for higher short term gains. We will continue to see shortages and other symptoms when we eliminate a skilled workforce in favor of a cheap one abroad where safety and human rights issues have a dubious present let alone future. If it takes a baby formula shortage to highlight just how precarious the situation is, we have the blinders on way too often.

    The thread started out talking about our lack of understanding of global events and it's consequences. When a popular cell phone manufacturer has to put nets around the roof of it's overseas manufacturing plant to keep the workers from attempting suicide since working conditions are so horrid, that's a global event we need to pay attention to. Global events and the application of ethics thereto, are sorely lacking in the present culture. CE's have to take continuing education hours in ethics to maintain a license in a few states. Time to branch out and apply the lessons. All of us need to raise our awareness of global events and how it effects our potential locally, how we can best keep our economy viable and not just push the plus column on this month's balance sheet. Rearranging the deck chairs. Think and act with the next generation in mind.

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    William Bala P.E., S.E., M.ASCE
    Owner
    Hawkins TX
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  • 11.  RE: Rearranging the deck chairs while the ship sinks

    Posted 25 days ago
    Inexpensive cell phones are a good example.  Every day people want to purchase cell phones, despite earning an income which isn't commensurate with the true cost of the cell phone.  This demand incentivises cell phone makers to lower production costs and conceal the sacrifices they had to make to do so.  Governments demand equal access for everyone.  People come to expect that lower income persons ought to have the same access to expensive cell phones as wealthy persons.  (Wealthy persons have the means to pay the full cost of a cell phone manufactured with environmental and worker safety protections).  Stating this view immediately opens me up to criticism that I am opposed to equal rights or that someone I advocate that only the elite should be able to purchase cell phones. That is to say, analysis of this state of affairs is squelched.

    So, governments take money from one group of people and give to others, to equalize things.  Civil engineers need to be aware that this is going on.  This is not to say that this is appropriate or desirable, or not.  We certainly don't need to go back to the feudal system of government.  But decisions like building dams in arid lands, to keep people fed where naturally no food could grow, or fossil fuel heating to keep people from freezing to death in cold lands:  these have ethical repercussions and require trade-offs.  If it were not physically possible to build dams in arid lands and keep people from starving, those people would pack up and leave.  How many people in Sindh really absolutely love it so much there that they refuse to leave and will pay a huge portion of their earnings to fund dams?  Or do they expect workers all over the world to pitch in cash to save them?

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    Dudley McFadden P.E., D.WRE, M.ASCE
    Principal Civil Engineer
    Roseville CA
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  • 12.  RE: Rearranging the deck chairs while the ship sinks