Editor's Notebook: Enlightened Environmentalist

The commitment to be environmentally conscious in the OEM industry is alive and well today.

I remember the moral dilemma I had when I first started working for OEM Off-Highway, only two short years ago. In college I took classes like Environmental Ethics and Human Environmental Problems, studied abroad in Ecuador to spend time in the Amazon rainforest, and even contemplated a career in Environmental Science.

Starting at OEM, I was fascinated by the intricacies of engineering, to the detail and the attention paid to the smallest component and its importance to the whole system. But, I was naive to the idea that the industries I was learning about — mining, forestry, construction — really added to the greater good, and instead viewed them as barbaric practices of environmental warfare where the end result was another diamond for a piece of jewelry, or an expensive table for a dining room that never gets used.

I was wrong.

The more time I spend writing for OEM Off-Highway, the more I learn about the commitment to be environmentally conscious for OEMs, equipment designers and product developers. I learn about their passion and motivation to solve the puzzles of our world. And I learned that by educating myself about the things I resented only years ago, I can find an appreciation and gratitude for what I had misunderstood.

Even on the most basic levels, capitalism breeds competition. With mobile equipment, to be the best you reach for efficiency. An engineer's goal is to produce a machine with the least amount of damage to a customer's bottom line, by using the least amount of resources. That's basic conservation. In our current economic climate, sustainable and efficient technologies will save time, money, resources and could ultimately be the life-raft that gets us through this tough period.

At MinExpo 2008, I saw Caterpillar's Ground Rules: Mining Right for a Sustainable Future, a short film focused on educating the public about mining's intrinsic value to society while emphasizing the core concepts of sustainable development and social and economical responsibility. Scientists documented the land's every contour and plant and animal diversity. Local communities were prepped for a temporary economic stimulation, and when the project was done, Cat machines helped leave the land the way it was before the mine.

That's just one example of the many companies on a mission to make the world a better and cleaner place. Our cover story highlights corporate green initiatives, and this entire issue focuses on green machines, technologies, alternative energies and more. Don't worry, this magazine is now printed on soy-based ink, and there are more online exclusive articles to read on www.oemoffhighway.com!

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