Many industrialized countries face ageing populations and slowing natural population increase at present. Further baby-boomers in these countries, the first of who will be turning 65 in 2011, will be retiring in large numbers changing urban demographics in these countries. Consequently these countries are encouraging high immigration levels to fuel economic growth. Their rural-urban fringes are also growing rapidly. There is growing concern about the environmental consequences of these patterns, particularly the dependence on the automobile.
At the same time some developing countries are industrializing rapidly, particularly China and India, increasing the demand for natural resources even as supplies dwindle. Frugal engineering an overarching philosophy that enables a true “clean sheet” approach to product development is emerging from this. An example of this is the new Tata Nano highlighted by Rohit Talwar, Chief Executive of Global Futures and Foresight in London. Frugal engineering recalls an approach common in the early days of U.S. assembly-line manufacturing: Henry Ford‟s Model T that transformed the transportation in the United States. Frugal engineering is addressing billions of consumers at the bottom of the pyramid who are quickly moving out of poverty in China, India, Brazil, and other emerging nations.
The U.S. Department of Energy has estimated that China and India will drive a more than 40% increase in global demand for oil by 2030. In July 2008, Al Gore connected the dots to the energy crises the U.S. faces and drew a picture of non-sustainability. He challenged the U.S. to generate 100% of the electricity it needs using clean, renewable, sustainable sources within 10 years.21 As a result of these changes engineers find themselves addressing sustainability, a critical dimension in engineering in the twenty first century.
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Gurmeet Bambrah, is the founder of TalentHunt360