The fast growing economies of Brazil, Russia, India, and China (BRIC) need complex infrastructure solutions and they need them fast. There is a great opportunity for engineers who know how to meet those needs. Considering that these countries are the next dominant world powers based on current global development trends, we had better begin brushing up on our Portuguese, Russian, Mandarin/Cantonese, and Hindi.
A lot of engineers in the US feel threatened by overseas competition. I don’t. I feel that our ethical obligations to “build their professional reputation on the merit of their services and shall not compete unfairly with others” mean that we shouldn’t put up unfair barriers to outside competition. I encourage honest competition, if we can lower prices and maintain safe structures then everyone benefits. Competition for important jobs always inspires creativity.
Let’s not try to hold back our engineering friends from the BRIC countries, I say we welcome them and start working together to solve humanity’s great problems. But seriously, I expect great things to come out of these countries in the next few decades. Russia and Brazil are scheduled to host upcoming Olympic games, China just hosted one itself, and India has been widely acknowledged as one of the new world powers.
These countries are still working through some difficult issues like guarantees of democracy, freedom of the press, and human rights issues, but their own ascension to the world geopolitical stage is not unlike the US or similar countries. It took the US many many years before we met our goals of a society based on equal rights (still an ongoing process). It’s important to look at where these countries will be in 30 years, not necessarily where they are right now.
A caveat remains, however. As the people living there acquire more wealth and seek the luxuries that the US and Europe currently enjoy, then the efforts at preventing climate change could be thrown into disarray. It is important that we get this right, because the BRIC countries represent 40% of the human population! The way to do this correctly is for the US and developed countries to start making serious policies regarding climate change. The time is right for developed countries to save the world, and it is our responsibility because we have been the cause of most of its problems through our centuries of industrial experimentation.
BRIC presents us an opportunity to start a meaningful dialogue about the future of the human condition. It is not just an opportunity to open their markets and sell them gasoline cars, it is an opportunity to raise the quality of life of every person on the planet in a meaningful, and sustainable, way. We have the capability to meet the needs of all people while still preserving a viable future for our later generations.
The BRIC economies have shown off the human ability for innovation. From the bus transit system of Curitiba, Brazil to the speeding bullet trains of China, these countries have no fear of modernizing their transportation systems. Of course, the traditional neighborhoods in these countries are some of the most efficient and low-impact styles of living, so we need to encourage BRIC to retain them. Let’s not export our worst product – suburban sprawl. What we need are ways of accommodating the wants and desires of the middle class with the realities of a world under threat of climate change.
In this sense, the Western countries can continue to develop green designs that will deliver safety under environmental hazards, comfortable climate controls, and continued transit solutions. Working together, BRIC and the US/Europe can accomplish more than working alone. In support of these goals, I am including translation tools for this website. I may speak only one language, but I think if we listen carefully we find ways to understand each other.