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Intelligent & Resilient Ocean Engineering – Royal Academy of Engineering Chair in Emerging TechnologiesNews and Events

Susan Gourvenec and Rebecca Sykes publish article in The Conversation’s Oceans 21 Series

Published: 12 August 2021
The Conversation’s Oceans 21 Series

IROE Chair, Susan Gourvenec and IROE Adjunct Researcher Rebecca Sykes have contributed an article to The Conversation Oceans 21 Series – a Conversation International Series examining the history and future of the world’s ocean. The Oceans 21 was established to coincide with the year of the start of the UN Decade of Ocean Science and focusses on a different oceans topic each month in the run up to COP26.

In the article, Susan and Rebecca highlight that everything we engineer, whether it’s clothes, mobile phones or offshore wind turbines, needs resources from Earth’s biological and physical systems. These are taken, made into these things we use every day and then - to varying degrees - discarded as waste. The article warns that this way of exploiting nature is outstripping its ability to recover.

They pose the question, what if, as well as building useful infrastructure for society, engineers sought to tie their work into ecological processes? We would need to shift our thinking from simply limiting damage to the natural world, to including its needs, so that we reciprocate and support the natural world as it supports us, and help regenerate these natural systems.

The world needs more wind turbines, and fast, but clearly, the environmental and social consequences of making and installing them reduces some of their positive potential. Currently, the most ambitious designs seek to minimise these negative impacts. Can we think deeper?

Ocean engineers must think ecologically to help species live and evolve through the difficult decades ahead. We need to challenge the status quo, be open to collaboration and reimagine how we can work with the ocean.

You can read the full article here.

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