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Engineer Royal

Have a position of long term responsibility for engineering
  [vote for,

Engineering is quite important. It involves taking the various graphs and charts crafted by scientists from raw, unrefined grant money and using them to modify the environment in some way. Myself, I am a fan of roads, sewers, bridges and the standardized distribution of electricity. Engineering projects, particularly big ones, often suffer from the interference of politicians. Politicians turn temporary public favor into lucrative speaking or corporate consultancy gigs in around 6 years and as such are often not around for the completion of 10+ year engineering projects.

This is deeply problematic. For example, the UK is currently building some offshore wind farms for completion in 2020 <link>. Now, this is a little embarrassing as the cost for offshore wind was 20% more than solar according to the governments own estimates in 2015, <link> and solar has been falling at 15%/year for over a decade. This means it will be twice as expensive as solar by the time they switch it on. Assuming, of course that the gentle pussycat that is the North Sea doesn't playfully bat it under the sofa of oblivion within 18 months. Common sense suggests that this should be cancelled, and the person responsible tied to a post in the North Sea.

The person responsible, or at least in charge at the time, was Ed Davey <link>. He can't be held responsible because A: he is no longer in the post B: the post no longer exists C: the department no longer exists D: he's not a member of the government E: he's not a member of parliament. Now, his role, obviously successful, was recently rewarded with a Knighthood, and he will probably spend his remaining days as he spent the last year or so: banging on about how much environmental stuff he got built by those very convincing Danish chancers over at Dong energy.

Now, there could be a solution. Governments are a bit temporary. We do not, for example, entrust the REALLY important things to the will of the people. So how about a Royal appointment? We have a few already, Astronomer Royal, Poet Laureate, that kind of thing. Their general role is to be a steady hand on the tiller, saying nothing too controversial and being tediously well qualified in their area.

So, we appoint an Engineer Royal. This person should have regular access to the Queen, probably a seat in the Lords, a firm stare and a sound grasp of thermodynamics. Four seconds after receiving a proposal for a transatlantic cycle path, the Engineer Royal can have a quiet word with the relevant power brokers, calmly explaining that the project is silly because the Americans ride on the wrong side. The proposal is shredded and the minister responsible removed from numerous lists.

Should any stupid projects come to fruition, and the stupidity of that project be demonstrably predictable from the outset, the Engineer Royal shall be shot or have their calculator taken, whichever causes more humiliation and suffering.

bs0u0155, Jan 18 2017

Offshore Wind http://www.hornseap...development-consent
[bs0u0155, Jan 18 2017]

Energy Cost By Source https://en.wikipedi...urce#United_Kingdom
[bs0u0155, Jan 18 2017]

Secretary of State for Energy & Climate Change https://en.wikipedi..._and_Climate_Change
[bs0u0155, Jan 18 2017]

Royal Engineers https://en.wikipedi...iki/Royal_Engineers
[MaxwellBuchanan, Jan 19 2017]


       I'm sure Herself would be greatly amused. I know I am +
xenzag, Jan 18 2017

       What exactly is a temporary pubic flavor?
MaxwellBuchanan, Jan 18 2017

       It is a form of hair product found at specialist retailers for the discerning gentleman, so I've heard.
bs0u0155, Jan 18 2017

       //temporary pubic flavor// <bc> A misplaced peppermint. </bystander comment> Well, I laughed.   

       Might get a bit political for a task that eminently pragmatic and practical. Who advises the Queen that the Royal Engineer is worthy of her ear?
wjt, Jan 19 2017

       + This is really good and so well written! A Bravo Bun for you!
xandram, Jan 19 2017

       Royal Engineers already exist. Even better, they are armed and therefore able to enforce decisions. Link.
MaxwellBuchanan, Jan 19 2017

       It's not just build what is cheapest, as each renewable type has its pros and cons. Wind or solar isn't predictable, tidal maybe a bit more so. 24 hour coverage is hard to plan.   

       On the [linked] page about energy cost, some figures don't make sense e.g. "Solar Power Tower With Storage 100MW 11HR" $/MWh is less than that without storage. I'd expect any fluctuating source of power to be cheaper.
bigsleep, Jan 19 2017

       What [xandram] said.
Voice, Jan 19 2017

       // Royal Engineers already exist. Even better, they are armed and therefore able to enforce decisions. //   

       This is correct. However, a huge accumulation of observational evidence* indicates that the typical decisions made by RE's - depending on rank - fall into a number of very limited categories:   

       For NCOs and Other Ranks, the decisions are:   

       "Is it time for another mug of tea yet ?"
"No-one else knows we're here, right ?"
"There's no risk of us having to do any work, is there ?"
"Got any more of that beer ?"
"When are you going to shift that stuff so I can lie down for a kip ?"

       For Officers:   

       "Is it time for another gin and tonic yet ?"
"No-one else knows we're here, right ?"
"There's no risk of us having to do any work, is there ?"
"Is this the best port you've got ?"
"Is there anything round here we can blow up without someone complaining ?"

       Such decisions do not, by and large, require any form of enforcement.   

       The problems are exacerbated by the extreme difficulty of actually finding RE's, who have finely honed skills in camouflage and concealment which they employ against friend and foe alike, a range of vehicles superbly adapted for rapid travel in all terrains, and a propensity to vanish over the horizon in the event of a threat, for example the prospect of rain, or their ultra-sensetive antennae detecting that someone might actually try to get them to do some work.   

       *We are aware that a mere accumulation of observational evidence does not constitutute proof, but it is a useful indication of general tendencies.
8th of 7, Jan 19 2017


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