A reminder about the imminent climate catastrophe and how we should educate engineers to prepare for it

[The following text is adapted from the after-dinner speech I gave at the University of Edinburgh Engineering Faculty’s away day. It was originally titled ‘How problem-based learning can save the world and make you happy too’. But I have renamed it ‘A reminder about the imminent climate catastrophe and how we should educate engineers to prepare for it’]

Tonight’s engagement is my first since I took a summer sabbatical, which I planned to use to work on a book. Those plans changed in my first week away when I got involved in the Extinction Rebellion summer uprising in Bristol. That experience of direct action and the reaction it caused prompted me to read much more about climate breakdown, models for political change, the implications of societal collapse, the role of engineers to help minimise impacts and deal with upheaval in our own communities and the role of the people that teach engineers.

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Climate breakdown – uncivil engineering questions

At the start of the summer I felt that the best contribution I could make to tackling the climate emergency was to offer my skills as a trainer and a facilitator to Extinction Rebellion (XR). In June, I joined the team that run induction sessions for new members of XR Bristol. The following words I’ve adapted from the script we use as the basis for the induction sessions.

‘The Government has an obligation to provide protection for the citizens it represents. This is the basis of the social contract upon which the citizens give the government the power to rule.

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