Nov 26, 2019 in Technologies
How the Environment Is a Concern for Engineers?

The aim of this report is to analyze how the environment has become a concern for engineers and how engineers should adopt different methods to keep environmental conservation as prior to their considerations. Due to increasing air pollution and gas emissions in the Earth through human activities, the environment may be significantly affected by engineers, hence causing a huge impact on natural resources. For instance, the rise in the Earth’s surface temperature leads to rapid climate change and global warming. Engineers must take appropriate actions to mitigate environmental pollution as a way of reducing these threats. This has generated a growing awareness of the importance of reducing greenhouse gas. Furthermore, much can be done by environmental engineers to decrease many types of pollution by putting into practice specific engineering procedures in order to avoid the impacts of environmental pollution. It is worth to mention that not only environmental engineers are responsible for protecting the environment, but also all different types of engineering majors who are challenged by the environment. All of this is important to put a stop on ethical issues and show that environmental and economic goals are needed. However, some engineers take into consideration the economic effects more than the environmental ones. This is to put the public interests above personal and business interests. As it states in the Australian code of ethics, it is compulsory to address the responsibility of health and safety. For example, when conducting an oil extraction operation, petroleum engineers must take the environmental concept as important as the efficiency of the outcome from this operation.

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Environment refers to all external conditions that surround people, animals, and plants, and which have influenced their behavior and activities. Some components of the environment are air, water, and soil and physical features. These crucial components of the environment are often susceptible to the harm that is inflicted by various human activities. This is called environmental pollution. There are various forms of pollution namely water, air, soil, and sound pollution. All these pollution have untold consequences on all organisms, for they are responsible for the alteration of normal conditions that favor organic life. Once life conditions are modified, organisms have a hard time trying to cope with the modifications, and in most cases, some would succumb and become extinct. Life is translated into an avoidable burden that must be endured by people, animals, and plants.

Engineering activities have played a significant role in polluting the environment. These activities entail but are not limited to electrical, agricultural, mechanical, and civil engineering, among others. Due to these engineering activities, a lot of industrial discharges are released to the environment where they intoxicate the soil and water surfaces. The toxins in turn harm people, animals, and plants dwelling in the environment. The harm also goes a long way in affecting their physiological nature meaning their lives would not be normal again. Similarly, from the same activities, chemical fumes are emitted to the atmosphere which equally has an effect on the atmospheric phenomena which have a direct impact on the lives on Earth. For instance, the emission of chlorofluorocarbons by industries has had a widespread effect on the state of the ozone layer. Chlofluorocarborns is a very important layer of ozone gas contained in the stratosphere whose role is to absorb ultraviolet radiation from the sun. It, therefore, performs a regulatory function on the incoming radiation by shielding the harmful rays from reaching the Earth’s surface. According to scientific research, one chlorine atom has the potential to deplete 1000 ozone molecules, thus, weakening its protective power. This scenario has resulted in global warming, meaning that the Earth is experiencing increased solar output than is expected. Causes of ailments such as skin cancer and cataracts the eyes are also associated with this. Similar emissions of methane, sulfur dioxide, and nitrogen gases have reportedly been responsible for the formation of acid rain which is not fit for use by living organisms.

Apart from that, engineering activities have adversely been responsible for sound pollution where industries, automobiles and musical objects produce a deafening sound that causes hearing impairment among people, especially infants. In some cases, blasts and explosions have caused Earth tremors and heart problems to the people living around. It is, therefore, evident that enormous pollution activities have hitherto been perpetuated by engineers, who should be taking the lead to ensure that environmental conservation measures are observed. The engineers had been proactive to think through means and ways of preventing environmental pollution, the world today could not be grappling with the negative outcomes of this menace. However, the buck still stops with these engineers and it is never late until it is too late. It will necessitate methods to be crafted in regulating the existing backlog of pollution as well as preventing further pollution. If this could be done concurrently for a considerable duration, certainly the outcome would be impressive.

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The Role of Engineers in Preventing Environmental Pollution

Engineers, particularly those related to industrial activities can prevent pollution through the process and facility design. This entails reevaluating the manner in which products are made such that the number of emissions and energy use which acts as undesirable outcomes is decreased at that level. It is highly cost-effective and safer for the environment to prevent waste production rather than controlling, whose cost is exorbitant yet damage would have already been done.

Though there are a number of agencies that spearhead mitigation of environmental pollution such as the American Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA), the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) and Pollution Prevention Act (PPA), the level attained through their concerted efforts of overseeing disposal activities of toxic wastes and controlling the ones which have adversely harmed the environment are wanting. The PPA, for instance, has advocated for the prevention and reduction of pollution whenever feasible and is still ventilating on policies that focus on recycling and regulation of unnecessary packaging. The weakness in these agencies, however, has been their intimidating mechanisms of imposing hefty fines on manufacturers once pollution has already been made other than motivating them to embrace ways of preventing pollution right from the source.

Another very serious concern is that most industrial processes were designed without any regard for waste. In fact, waste is viewed more as a by-product of the process rather than a component embedded in it. Therefore, the engineers should devise mechanisms to handle these by-products immediately they are released. This can be achieved when they make some small modifications with the help of mechanical and chemical processes to minimize the waste produced in the process. The engineers have the capability to analyze the current state of systems and accurately provide the processes that need to be excluded in order to make production as efficient as possible. The current state has been hard to provide mitigation on pollution because engineers are more focused on the economic gains that on environmental wellbeing. This means that engineers must embrace corporate social responsibility practices that promote greener environments. In this way, industrial engineers will be concerned about the state of not only their firm and employees but also the state of the environment, customers and the community within which they operate. Concerning sound pollution, engineers can invent soundproof devices which will be fitted at the source of every exhaust pipe to prevent it from blasting the environment. This is possible since there are some rooms such as courtrooms, theatres, and studios which are configured in the manner that prevents sound penetration. Summarily, engineers can make some realignment of occupational goals and incorporate environmental concerns by joining other environmental engineers to prevent pollution.

On the other hand, environmental engineers are also endowed with a fundamental role to play, not only in controlling environmental pollution but also as prevention measures. These have the responsibility of focusing, not only on industrially generated pollution but also on other sources of pollution as well. They can galvanize people especially in the agricultural and health sectors where assorted chemicals and aerosol pumps are used continuously, to adopt a preventive measures of pollution in order to bring the level of impact on the environment. They should also educate people to incorporate environmental and social constraints the time they design assorted products.

Appropriate Methods of Preventing Pollution

The industrial engineers have various methods through which prevention of pollution can be done effectively. The first is during facility planning. While planning to set up a facility, industrial engineers can ponder the question of how the facility can have a minimum impact on the environment. They should consider space requirements and the capacity to handle materials. Another method is total quality management, and it can be used in managing the effects of pollution on the environment by focusing on the production of high-quality products but which have nearly zero defects on the environment. This calls for strong management commitment that will ensure continuous improvement in quality production.

The third and last method is process designs which call for careful planning and relevant resources in order to come up with new product design. Engineers should be incorporated in the ecologically sustainable organizations so that they may help the manufacturing plants to reduce the number of wastes that act as a by-product in the system. They should aim at finding a way of using renewable materials all the time developing purchasing policies that are ecologically sensitive. Besides they should incorporate life cycle design, which is a structured approach to pollution prevention strategies for the generation of ecologically sustainable products. This should be enhanced right from the time of acquiring raw materials up to the time products are finished through to the time when they have been consumed and end with the disposal. The prime goal of life cycle design is to minimize the risks and impacts that emanate from all of the aforementioned processes.

Obstacles to Environmental Conservation Methods

However, the above approaches have four main obstacles. First, improved environmental sustainability cannot be valued in internal decisions for capital allocation. The operations and supply chains have numerous impacts on the environment, but unlike other factors of production, the companies do not have proper internal mechanisms to value the benefits of managing environmental sustainability. All companies are always hoping that the environment will be favorable for them to make enormous profits. What is not heard is the strategy that will ensure a safe environment for the operation to yield a hundredfold. Furthermore, as the engineers continue hoping for the best, erroneous practices of waste disposal through discharges and emissions also continues as usual. For this reason, little change is seen and more harm than good is observed on the environment day in day out.

In addition, there is an improper alignment of the goals of corporate sustainability teams and financial teams due to divergent priorities. As earlier mentioned, many companies always make strategies that are geared towards the company’s economic growth and sustainability but would hardly strategize on environmental sustainability. They consider the environment as a liability to them and perhaps in their thinking, they would rather do without it. What they forget is that without the same environment, they could not be in any position to carry out the kind of activities that they engage in, leave alone the source of raw materials. This kind of mentality condition hampers effective engagement since sustainability teams are always factored into project design late such that they cannot present an effective case to financial decision-makers.

Similarly, most manufacturing plants lack metrics which should help them to account for external environmental costs such as the risk of climate change to society. Companies find it very difficult to quantify this risk and equate it in monetary terms. It is even hard to estimate the costs given that climate change is unpredictable and is a gradual and passive process, which would hardly be noticed by living organisms. People only come to reckon with the reality when the damage would have long been done. For this reason, they have never factored such expenses into their routine decision making. In addition, most companies are never cognizant of real costs and risks that are associated with their investments over time.

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Finally, there is a total lack of effort to integrate environmental factors such as climate change and water risks into long-term business strategies. Consequently, companies miss out on opportunities to improve financial performance for the improvement of the environment in processes and lines of products. There is a general feeling that industrial engineers have failed in their mandate to initiate mechanisms and processes that can be useful to mitigate the pollution being unleashed into the environment day after day.

 

The environment is a very significant component of an organic lie and should be treated with the utmost care. Human beings work very hard to exploit resources that can enable them to live meaningfully and usefully in this world. However, little efforts are embraced in conserving the environment in which they should enjoy the fruits of their effort. In fact, much of their hard work usually results in harming the environment more than they conserve it. Through human activities, the ozone layer has been depleted and paved way for climate change which has subsequently led to the increase of solar output as evidenced by the ongoing global warming. Similarly, the aesthetic value of the environment in which human beings live has also been disfigured greatly due to their erroneous means of waste disposal. The massive land dereliction caused by mining activities has also made the same environment inhabitable and largely interfered with biotic factors. It is high time for the world leaders to come up with mechanisms to propagate for a safe environment and galvanize the world population to make concerted efforts to conserve the environment if they really wish to enjoy the fruits of their daily endeavors. This can be done through public sensitization by the use of media faculties, through environmental conferences and more perfectly through educational curricula that will ensure the learners acquire and embrace environmental conservation tips right from their childhood and grow with them to adulthood. Within a span of a decade, positive results would have been observed and what will remain is sustainability. The manufacturing, mining and production companies across the world also have the responsibility of implementing the aforementioned methods of prevention of environmental pollution, as well as embracing the programs of corporate social responsibility. Unless this is seriously considered, people of the world risk plunging into environmental degradation which is the abyss of no return.

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