Fracing, PEs, and Advocacy

What’s the difference between science-based advocacy and advocacy-based science? And what does it mean for professional engineers?

In the April issue ofPEmagazine, Anthony Ingraffea, P.E., addresses these questions as they relate to the timely topic of hydraulic fracturing, or fracing.

Ingraffea, who is the Dwight C. Baum Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Cornell University with a background in rock fracture mechanics and hydraulic fracturing, says there is a crucial ethical distinction between science-based advocacy and advocacy-based science.

“In the former, an engineer advocates publicly for or against an engineering project based on peer-reviewed science that has quantified the risks to human health, Ingraffea writes. “In the latter, an engineer, perhaps swayed by outside interests or by ideology, advocates for a position based on non-peer-reviewed and biased reports, or on an unbalanced assessment of the pros and cons.”

Ingraffea advises: “Remember, when communicating today with responsible legislators or administrators on such a large-scale economic, environmental, and human health issue, one is advocating not just for the present stakeholders but for generations to come.”

Published April 13, 2011 by NSPE

Filed under: hydraulic fracturing, ethics, advocacy,

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