Thursday, August 16, 2012

Global Warming: A Sensible Solution

I recently read an article stating that the CO2 emissions are at a 20 year low. I do have a scientific background and I agree that the Earth is heating up, and that a portion of this may be due to man's interference. However, I will not discuss or debate the extent or the problem that this may cause in this article (if you want a discussion on that, comment below). What can be accepted is that many governments find CO2 emissions to be a problem and have spent billions of dollars to counteract this perceived problem. Until recently, there was only marginal success at best for these efforts to curb emissions or to use other "alternative fuels" (again, if you want a discussion that...comment and I'll make one). The surprise from this story and to many big government thinkers is that the drop to a 20 year low was NOT from a huge government program, it was due to the market!

Wait, you mean that capitalist market that gets the reputation for not caring about the environment or the effect of industry on the environment? You mean that same market has actually come through and made a difference? And the simple answer is yes. The market has shifted to make cleaner burning natural gas cheaper than the dirtier burning of coal. The market has shifted to the cleaner source of energy and has done so primarily due to market forces and not to government forces. Despite the heavy meddling of government that produces limited results, the market has moved and provided less C02 emissions.

From this, it should be seen the sensible approach to CO2 and other emissions that governments, rightfully or wrongfully, wish to reduce. The market has to lean towards a cheap and viable alternative. Money spent on expensive alternative energy could be used to feed our poor or promote peace or other worthy goals. People tend to want to do the healthy option, the market just has to move to give it to them. So, more emphasis should be put on letting the market work to solve our problems rather than trying to force the market to accept more expensive and subsidized forms of energy. Ultimately, we all make decisions based on cost. And it is these decisions that move the markets. When a clean energy is made competitive in the market, it will succeed...but if it remains expensive and subsidized, it will not. Natural gas is where the market has moved now, whats next?

Here is the article I read if you want to see it:

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Science and Engineering in America. Are We Behind?

Over the years I have read many articles and studies suggesting that the U.S.A is behind in science and math education and that we are not producing enough engineers. This was part of the big reason I studied hard in school  in math and science and got a high ACT score to get into a great university. I studied Chemical Engineering and got a B.S. in that field in 2011. When I started the major, the class sizes for seniors was around 60. Today, that class size is over 100. There is a great deal of interest in chemical engineering,and other math and science fields, among many young men and women.

However, there are not jobs for these newly graduated engineers. With all of the talk saying we need more engineers, not enough has been done to ensure that the engineers we have and create can even work in this great country. Since I graduated I took a contract job as a chemist at a low salary just to work. I had a good  GPA and had previous experience in a chemical engineering lab. After that contract, I have been unemployed and actively applying to over 60 jobs. I had a few interviews, but was mostly deemed not to have enough experience.

How can the government say we don't have enough science and math professionals in this country when they can't provide for the current number? The economic recession caused many experience engineers to seek jobs they were overqualified for and have taken positions that would normally go to new graduates. So....

  • Is our education system failing?
    • No! We are producing many smart and talented engineers and class sizes are growing.
  • Are business failing in math and science?
    • Yes! They are focused on hiring only highly experienced engineers and paying them less because the market is tight for jobs. This gives up any talent development for young engineers who could have a longer future with companies.
  • Is the government failing?
    • Absolutely! The emphasis has been put on more teachers and more education. My view is this may have to do with teachers unions...but that is a different story. The real problem is the lack of incentive for businesses to create jobs for graduates in math and science.
So what do we do? We need to have more incentives for companies to hire new engineers and scientists and to retain their current experienced engineers. We need to stop saying we need more investment in education for science and math when we can teach these students already, but can't provide a future for them. There is no point in spending the money on the education if we cannot support them and make use of that investment in the economy. So, we need less emphasis on the education and more emphasis on the engineering jobs until there is a real shortage in industry. A shortage to me would be when less than one person is not academically fit for the job.