Earth systems engineering: turning vision into action
- Authors: Jim Hall 1 ; Enda O'Connell 2
- + View affiliations- Hide affiliations
- Source: Proceedings of the ICE - Civil Engineering, Volume 160, Issue 3, 01 August 2007 , pages 114 –122
The potential of technology to help solve many of the world's most pressing problems, ranging from climate change to resource scarcity and poverty, is widely recognised. However, rationally managing and engineering the Earth's systems is a hugely complex task, which extends engineering from its traditional technical domain to dealing with coupled human and natural systems and unprecedented levels of uncertainty. It requires new understanding of how the effects of engineering accumulate and propagate across scales, up to the planetary scale. This paper surveys the challenges and principles of ‘Earth systems engineering’, as a counterpart to the already fast-developing field of Earth systems science. Examples illustrate how engineers are already applying their skills to manage complex systems such as cities, coastlines and climate.