MEM 6120 - Engineering Management II Assignment #5 January 8, 2013 Chapter 14 14.1 Sustainable development refers to work that simultaneously satisfies economical social, and environmental requirements (United Nations, 2002). It is self-evident that work must be economically viable so that customers are willing to pay for the work supplied. Work must also be safe and otherwise socially compatible. Furthermore, work need to be environmentally acceptable in that harmful discharges are minimized, wastes are decreased, material and energy resources are conserved, and any other detrimental impact on the environment is minimized. Some academicians suggest that it is the engineer’s responsibility to attain the ideals of sustainable development. They view it as the major challenge facing engineers in the future (Cruicksank 2003). Do you agree with this notion? Why or why not?
I agree with that notion as you can see in my explanation. The world is becoming a place in which the human population which now numbers more than six billion is becoming more crowded, more consuming, more polluting, more connected, and in many ways less diverse than at any time in history. There is a growing recognition that humans are altering the Earth’s natural systems at all scales, from local to global, at an unprecedented rate, changes that can only be compared to events that marked the great transitions in the geobiological eras of Earth’s history. In the next two decades, almost two billion additional people are expected to populate the Earth, 95 percent of them in developing or underdeveloped countries. This growth will create unprecedented demands for energy, food, land, water, transportation, materials, waste disposal, earth moving, health care, environmental cleanup, telecommunication, and infrastructure. The role of engineers will be critical in fulfilling those demands at various scales, ranging from remote small communities to large urban areas (megacities), mostly in the developing world. Today, it is estimated that between 835 million and 2 billion people live in some type of city slum and that the urban share of the world’s extreme poverty is about 25 percent.
Considering the problems facing our planet today and the problems expected to arise in the first half of the twenty-first century, the engineering profession must revisit its mindset and adopt a new mission statement - to contribute to the building of a more sustainable, stable, and equitable world. Sustainable development will be impossible without the full input by the engineering profession. For that to occur, engineers must adopt a completely different attitude toward natural and cultural systems and reconsider interactions between engineering disciplines and nontechnical fields. For the past 150 years, engineering practice has been based on a paradigm of controlling nature rather than cooperating with nature. In the control-of-nature paradigm, humans and the natural world are divided, and humans adopt an oppositional, manipulative stance toward nature. Despite this reductionist view of natural systems, this approach led to remarkable engineering achievements during the nineteenth and especially twentieth centuries. For instance, civil and environmental engineers have played a critical role in improving the condition of humankind on Earth by improving sanitation, developing water resources, and developing transportation systems. Ironically, these successes have unintentionally contributed to current problems by enabling population growth. Most engineering achievements of the past were developed without consideration for their social, economic, and environmental impacts on natural systems. Not much attention was paid to minimizing the risk and scale of unplanned or undesirable perturbations in natural systems associated with engineering systems. As we enter the twenty-first century, we must embark on a worldwide transition to a more holistic approach to engineering. This will...
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