Geeks Are Cool: Scientists And Engineers Will Lead The Way To A Greener Future

Wernher von Braun photo
Dr. Wernher von Braun, Director of the NASA Marshall Space Flight Center on July 1, 1960.

If ever there was a time for Big Scientists and Big Engineers to take leadership roles in government, this is it. We now have reason to be optimistic. The incoming US Federal administration has signaled its intent to put a Nobel Prize-winning physicist at the helm of the Department of Energy, a Chemical Engineer to Administer the Environmental Protection Agency, and, if what I just heard is correct, a Harvard-educated architect in charge of the Department of Housing & Urban Development.

Business Nerds Out, Techno-Geeks In
People with MBAs and PhDs in economics know best how to optimize for profit. Put lots of 'em in government and running investment houses and the odds increase greatly for 'overshoot.' Like what just happened. For the time being, business nerds have lost their credibility. Into the shadows for them.To Every Thing There Is A Season.
Put mostly lawyers in charge of administering environmental agencies, and legal or regulatory debates will dominate, dragging on for years.

Not that MBAs and bean counters and attorneys should be wholly disregarded. It is a matter of regaining balance, and of re-centering our vision of the future, to put experts with technical depth in charge of the agencies of government: so they can hire the change-agents and make it happen.

Of course, they must have proven administrative skills and political competency. Goes almost without saying.

Three more things, and then I'd like to open it up to our readers for comments.

I can't wait to see these people speaking up in Congressional hearings, when it will then be much harder for lobbyists to "spin" their statements later, and get away with it.

Those pushing Think-Tank generated talking points will find it harder to confound and run around administrators who are personally centered in the topics of which they speak.

For the best possible outcome, Congress has to take on the voice of the ethicist. That's something the "green blogs" can take a bead on as well.

Oh yeah, last thing, relating to the image used for this post, which comes via Wikipedia. Though we are still, thankfully, in a situation where the policy discussion is mainly about how to cost-effectively mitigate against climate forcing emissions, it is plausible that we could, much sooner than expected, find ourselves in crisis mode, freaking out over a rapidly acidifying oceans and atmospheric tipping points.

Measure twice, cut once: know that old adage of carpentry? NASA would have to redouble its efforts around climate missions. Now that's rocket science.