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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?

    Mitch Winkler P.E., M.ASCE
    Houston, TX

  • 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.

    Tsee Lee, A.M.ASCE
    United States
    New York, NY

  • 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

    Tahir Hayat Ph.D., P.E., M.ASCE
    Chief Executive

  • 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

    Tsee Lee, A.M.ASCE
    United States
    New York, NY

  • 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.

    Syed Masood P.E., M.ASCE
    Construction Maanger II
    Franklin WI

  • 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.

    William Bala P.E., S.E., M.ASCE
    Hawkins TX

  • 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.

    James Williams P.E., M.ASCE
    POA&M Structural Engineering, PLC
    Yorktown, VA

  • 8.  RE: Rearranging the deck chairs while the ship sinks