Crisis talks

Our rapidly ageing population and mitigating our impact on the climate are without doubt two of the biggest changes facing society. In both cases, it is Engineers who will be called upon to provide some of the key solutions.

Our rapidly ageing population and mitigating our impact on the climate are without doubt two of the biggest changes facing society. And in both cases, it is Engineers who will be called upon to provide some of the key solutions. This week, both issues will come under the spotlight.

“Engineering for the Ageing Population: Challenges and Opportunities” takes place over two days at the institute of mechanical engineers (IMechE) headquarters in London.

While most of us would welcome the prospect of as long a life as possible, the increases in life expectancy that are occurring – particularly in the developed world- have led to some frightening predictions. For instance, according to some estimates, there will be one pensioner for every two people in work by 2050. Those present at the conference – a cross-section of engineers drawn from the civil, mechanical and healthcare disciplines – will discuss and explore the technologies and approaches that could help address the more worrying implications of these statistics. The conference is also expected to draw attention to the huge, and as yet untapped, commercial opportunities posed by the ageing population.

Meanwhile, on the environment, the government’s energy and climate secretary Ed Milliband looks to have a busy week ahead of him. With the countdown to next month’s Copenhagen summit well and truly underway, Milliband is due to present six draft policy statements aimed at making the planning process for new energy infrastructure fairer and faster. With outdated planning regulations proving one of the biggest obstacles to the rapid development of renewable energy generation, this can only be a good thing. Milliband also delivers the opening address at the Environment Agency annual conference – which starts today at London’s QE11 conference centre. This year the focus of the event will be the role that both business, local communities and government can play in tackling climate change.

Jon Excell
Deputy Editor