Gerry Coates has been advocating for social responsibility for most of his career as a professional engineer. Starting the group Engineers for Social Responsibility in 1983 he now pushes the case for addressing climate change and “peak oil" before its too late. “We’re still in denial" he says.
His mission is to make the world fully sustainable so our children, their children and grandchildren can also live lives even better than ours using renewable resources. Gerry says there is a lack of understanding of what the word finite means. We think we can use up exhaustible resources, and mine our children’s inheritance for short term gain. But there is another way.
As an engineer he also believes that technology won’t necessarily save us, as everyone hopes. All the techniques we have to make the transition to sustainability in the next 20 years are actually largely with us now. New technologies like nanotechnology may help, but they are still decades away.
But Gerry’s message is one of hope, rather than gloom. He believes if we start making the transition to renewables and sustainable technology now, not only is it possible by using our fossil fuel reserves sensibly but we will also solve the problem of climate change.
Gerry Coates has been on a number of boards including the Wind Energy Association, and Land Transport New Zealand. As President of Engineers New Zealand in 2003-04 the professional body for engineers he was instrumental in introducing the new Chartered Professional Engineers registration system, and earlier a new Code of Ethics.
He’s also a writer and has been a stage lighting designer and relationship counsellor, and an active member of the peace movement in 1990 he went to the UN as NGO representative at the Partial Test Ban Treaty negotiations.
If you want a speaker who is both thought-provoking and entertaining with his wide knowledge of technology and environmental issues coupled with a wide life experience, then Gerry is the one.