This is a part of a series of blog posts on Environmental Engineering, where we’re going to be looking at the field, its roles and the way it’s helping us combat climate change. Stay tuned for our continued posts on the subject.
In recent years we’ve continuously been hearing news of record-breaking hot summers and cold winters. Now with the start of spring, we begin to notice once again, prolonged cold, harsh weather, normally associated with winter, following us into the beginning of April. This is due to only one thing- climate change.
A study published in Nature Geoscience by a team of researcher’s states, “these uncharacteristically cold winters… might be one of the most hard felt effects of climate change.”
According to this study, this abnormally prolonged cold weather in Northern US and Canada, and especially arid weather in central southern parts of the country “all coincided with periods of warmer Arctic weather.”
In layman’s terms, this means hotter summers and colder winters, which will last longer than we’re used to. We’re also facing an increase in storms caused by extreme weather, this includes an increase in the number of hurricanes formed, their strength and their duration, as well as other natural disasters including wildfires, as seen in California in January, which scientists have stated were caused by climate change.
This is where Environmental Engineering comes in as a solution. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, “Environmental engineers use the principles of engineering, soil science, biology, and chemistry to develop solutions to environmental problems.”
Environmental engineering goes back centuries all the way to the Harappan Civilization of the Indus Valley, where they had grid-planned cities, which included networks of water supply and waste disposal, then to Ancient Rome where they enhanced the technology behind aqueducts and sewers all the way through to the Industrial Revolution, with increased plumbing and sewage systems.
Today environmental engineering focuses on various areas including- management of solid and water waste, water supply and management of air pollution.
As a growing consumerist society we have increased amount of waste, whether it be due to fast fashion, food packaging, plastic materials, and electronics, environmental engineers have the task of figuring out the most sustainable way of disposing of this waste.
The same goes for water waste, which can be everything from toilet water to the water we use to brush our teeth and wash our clothes, these engineers have to find the best alternatives to treating this water for renewed used.
The role of environmental engineers has changed since the 1960’s, when the Clean Air Act first went into place, the engineer’s role was to manage and control polluters in our air; then the emergence of Acid Rain in the 1980’s, which, led to more efforts that have been “reduced by 70% in some parts of the world.”
Environmental engineers are crucial to the betterment of our planet, and with that of our health and peace of mind. Although construction is considered to be a field that disrupts the environment, through an increase of sustainable practices and research it’s our job to create a synergy between building man-made establishments and our planet.