Agents of Conscience, I'm not asking you to stop making friends and networking with people like yourselves. But I think we need more critical dialectic thinking.
The political system in the USA says the people who believe fervently in one thing (as opposed to being well rounded and open minded) invest earliest in the process to produce a candidate who must guarantee them what they want. These people are leaders, but I don't say "leader" with any capital L. They get candidates to commit early to a position (ethanol perhaps) the candidate has not had time to research. This produces perverted environmental legislation as well as bans on stem cell research and prayer in schools.
The more fervently you hold to your supposition, the more people who are AoC are attracted to learn from you, and you can quickly get a small posse to support your candidacy, and perhaps leverage the system.
But if you are not listening to critics, you risk the worst possible outcomes. EG:
1) ROHS "the restriction of the use of certain hazardous substances in electrical and electronic equipment". It means that you replace the toxic LEAD (Pb) in Solder circuitry with silver, gold and tin. Sounds great at first. Europe has done it, Japan is doing it, it has a lot of momentum. BUT the lifecycle of elements and production means we are mining Gold and Silver (one of the top producers of mercury is silver mining) from rain forests in developing countries to make less toxic (and less recyclable and less durable and less repairable and more greenhouse gas producing) circuit boards, which are going to be buried in a well regulated landfill in a developed country. The lead being replaced, incidentally, is one of the highest recycled (non mined) content metals on earth. SHAME!!!!
2) Mercury recycling: The USA has all these mercury recovery and recycling programs, sending environmentalists all over the place to hunt down mercury products and recover the mercury through recycling. The mercury is then (according to WSJ April 2006) primarily sold to alleuvial mining programs in rain forests. We are taking mercury out of well regulated western landfills and sending it into river basins in Africa and the Amazon. SHAME!!!!
I am a hard core environmentalist, and I don't mean to overstate the negative. Banning lead from gasoline was probably the best environmental law ever passed. But banning lead from solder may be the worst environmental law ever passed. I'm not saying to stop environmental laws. But I'm saying that the next generation of AoCs and environmentalists needs to study the entire lifecycle of product decisions. I read all kinds of insults hurled at environmentalists in engineer forums for solder, and I can't say I blame them.
(This turned into another "Alchemy must lead to western medecine" blog).
What I'm hunting for is environmentalist writing which is not back slapping emotional rib-punching self-righteous wreckless hogwash. The reason I need it is that I WANT OUR TEAM TO WIN. Some of our quarterbacks suck. There's no time to waste making non-toxic, biodegradeable packages out of baby seal pelts. The environmental answers must be rationally and logically researched. We have a limited number of enviro or eco-dollars to spare out to the M1 economy, and we need to spend them wisely.