Do we have a conscience?

Author: Marco C. Janssen, UTInnovation, Netherlands

During some of the discussions I had with colleagues I noticed that some things are still not the way I think they should be.
We are in the middle of a process that is supposed to change the world for the better. After decades of senseless destruction of our planet and its resources, slowly but steadily the notion that we need to stop this, is rising. There is an increased awareness of environmental issues resulting in an increasing push for a fundamental change in the way we use our natural resources.

The main objective should be the will to keep improving our society without the destruction of our planet as a consequence.
We are experiencing a boost in Smart Grid developments and a whole new realm of business opportunities. The latter can bring prosperity to many people, and at the same time decrease the environmental pressure on our habitat.

However, more and more I am disappointed finding out that people are in this for their personal gain only.

Do not get me wrong.  There is nothing wrong with a good sense of business and the will to make money.
However, this should not be done for personal gain only and certainly not without addressing the personal responsibilities we have towards the environment.
While writing, I am thinking that this should be common sense,  and that I should not be the one writing an article about it, however as I stated in the beginning, I have heard more and more stories pointing in the direction of relentless business people that do not care about anything else but their personal gain, and will do anything to stop, and/or eliminate competition.  They will go as far as creating patents for very promising technologies and shelve them to avoid the competition using their technology.

 This is ridiculous in my opinion. It means that solutions that could be available today are not, because someone does not want to share it with the competition. 
Also one would hope that people would have woken up after the almost never ending flow of articles showing how we are destroying our planet piece by piece.
Further, although the group of people that are aware of this is growing, there are others that choose to ignore the proof in front of them and simply continue doing things the way they always have.

I think that doing business and caring for the environment, and the improvement of society can go hand in hand, if we approach this matter as good engineers tend to approach every problem by systematically and honestly:

  • Analyzing the alternatives


  • Providing proof and substance for their final decisions

If everyone would follow these basic engineering principles, the backstabbing, dishonest, egoistic, relentless businessman would be a history,  and politicians would have no other option than to do the right things.
This would make the development of the Smart Grid a true game changer, not only as far as the development of the power system and its related industries are concerned, but for the entire planet as it would set an example of how a major change in the power system industry led to new ways of doing business for the betterment of everyone.

More win-win I cannot imagine.

In The Netherlands, in the beginning of the nineties of the last century, the government launched a campaign to increase environmental awareness.
The campaign was called -
“een beter milieu begint bij jezelf” or in English
“a better environment starts with you”

The campaign wasn’t very successful at the time as people were busier with themselves than with the environment. Also at that time the scientific proof of climate change and the environmental issues caused by us humans were not as well-known, and accepted as they are today.
I myself, did not pay a lot of attention to the environment at that time as I was, like everyone else,  too preoccupied in creating a better life for myself.
Today, I realize how right this statement is. A better environment does start with oneself. We can make a difference, if we have the will to do it.

Fortunately, times are different now and we can no longer ignore the fact that we have had a relatively catastrophic effect on our habitat.

I therefore think it is time to address our conscience, and every time we engineers take a business decision, we should consider whether this decision is the best for the business, the planet, ourselves, our society and our future.


Marco C. Janssen graduated the Polytechnic in Arnhem, The Netherlands.  He developed further his professional skills through programs and training courses. Marco  is President and Chief Commercial Officer of UTInnovation LLC, a company providing consulting & training services in the areas of protection, control, substation automation and data acquisition,  and support on the new international standard IEC 61850, advanced metering and power quality.  He is a member of WG 10, 17, 18, & 19 of IEC TC57, the IEEE-PES and UCA International Users group.

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