Current Global Issues Environmental Engineering Is Concerned About
What is Environmental Engineering? Environmental Engineering is the branch of engineering that involves with getting the environment quality a lot better. For example, getting pollution levels down in the air and water, getting people to improve their health, and improving recycling.
We have been having environmental problems ever since a group of people have settled in a specific area. This lead to having to find ways of getting rid of waste, finding ways to get clean water, and soil quality to grow plants.
Pollution is a big problem right now and in the future. Pollution is basically harmful materials entering into the atmosphere. Pollution is caused by cars, burning coal to create energy, volcanic ash, and pesticides. Pollution is affecting our forest with extreme amount. Polluted air can affect directly, and or indirectly from the soil or water. It also is one of the biggest challenges in the environment as well. In the United States most of the water is polluted. It is too polluted to fish, swim, and even for the aquatic life to live in. Basically all the untreated water, fertilizer, sewage, and waste is thrown into the water.
These promote algae and weed from growing, and it makes most of the water undrinkable and depleting the oxygen making it hard for the aquatic life. There is also man lands that is polluted. This basically destroys the land. It cause from humans using chemicals like pesticides and herbicides to the soil, disposing waste improperly, and mining. Noise and light pollution is also a big effect on the environment. Noise is cause by house sources, commercial and industrial activities, and transportation. Light pollution are lights that disrupt natural cycles, and disturbance in the wildlife. Examples of these light pollutions are streetlight, car light, billboards, parks, airports, residence areas, and sport arenas.
Pollution levels need to be gradually brought down. Is it destroying our environment, affecting the water and food we consume, bringing disease to humans and the wildlife; basically destroying our atmosphere very rapidly. The only ones that really can stop this is the humans. It is our responsibility to protect the environment, and with the growing population the pollution levels could get worse unless we do something about it. Controlling the pollution levels can not just be done in a snap of a finger it definitely requires planning, and getting the government involved. But, ignoring the problem can start to be the end of the world. Some of the things we can do is ban from using dangerous chemical that are thrown in the soil, recycling more thing and not just throwing them in the landfills. This could take a long time due to high levels of pollution in the earth, and the continuous of pollution entering the earth. But this process is a must that we have to do in order to continue have a nice, healthy, and suitable environment.
Waste management also has a huge impact on environment. There is many different types of waste that affect us. For example, solid waste, agricultural and animal waste, medical waste, radioactive waste, and oil and gas production waste is really affecting us. Hazardous waste contaminates water, land, and air and affects the humans health and environment a huge amount. The decomposition process can also produce methane gas; it is an explosive gas and contributes to global warming. The disposal of waste can cause other hazardous environment issues. For example, plastic generally produces toxins, like doxins as it is burning.
The gases generated can pollute the air, and can contribute to the effects that cause acid rain. In addition, it also generates ash which frequently contains heavy metals, as well as other toxins. Some things we can do to clean the earth is burn the waste to generate clean energy, instead of burning fossil fuels. This not only provides a viable alternative to placing waste in landfills, it actively aids the environment b furnishing a renewable energy source. Also, proper waste disposal ensures that as much as possible is recycled protecting the environment and saving resources.
As little as possible should be sent to landfills, which are very damaging to the environment. It vital to make sure anything left over is disposed of in a manner that has the least environmental impact possible; most safest way is burning it. Also, some of the waste is accidental, no doubt. Whether it is a hurricane that damages a city and sends debris across the ocean, and tsunami disaster, or products falling off a shipping container in the middle of the ocean. But much of the problems lies in a corporate culture that is not responsible for waste or end of life concerns for products, and out need for continuously cheaper goods made from unsustainable, short life expectancy products. One thing companies should start doing when they make their products, is how will it end up in the end. I think the government should possibly get companies before they create new products, how are the materials going to end up in the waste management. Whether it is going to recycled or burned to create more energy. One thing some stores have started doing is using paper bags instead of plastic bags. This is definitely a smart idea. Paper can easily be dissolved, and plastic can last forever and pollute the earth even more, so that definitely is a start to the process.
Another topic that is also affecting the environment is global warming. Global warming is not only rising average temperatures but also extreme weather events, shifting wildlife populations and habitats, rising seas, and a range of other impacts. All of these changes are emerging as humans continue to add heat trapping greenhouse gases to the atmosphere. Scientists have noticed that ice is melting worldwide. This includes glaciers, ice sheets covering the Earth’s pole. Much of the melting increases the levels of sea level rise.
Global sea levels are rising at an average pace of 0.13 inches a year, and it is increasing little by little and year by year. Rising temperature are also affecting wildlife and their habitats. Animals that live in the cold have been vanishing the ice is really challenging species. As temperature change, many species are on the move. Also, precipitation has increased across the globe, on average, Yet some regions are experiencing more severe drought, increasing the risk of wildfires, lost crops, and drinking water shortages. Sea levels are expected to rise between 10 and 32 inches or higher by the end of the century. Hurricanes and other storms are likely to become stronger.
Floods and droughts will become more common. Large parts of the U.S. are going to be facing “megadroughts”. Less freshwater will be available, since glaciers store about three quarters of the world’s freshwaters. Ecosystems will continue to change; some species will move farther north or become more successful. Or there is going to be problems for example polar bears will not be able to adapt and could possible become extinct. Basically, the planet is warming, from the North to the South pole. Since 1906, the global average surface temperature has increased by more than 1.6 degrees fahrenheit; even more in sensitive polar regions. And the impacts of rising temperature are not waiting for some far flung future effects of global warming are appearing right now. The heat is melting glaciers and sea ice, shifting precipitation patterns, and setting animals on the move.
Chemicals also affect the environment. What are chemicalt? Chemicals are the basic building blocks that make up all living things and nonliving things on Earth. Many chemicals occur naturally in the environment, and may be found in our air, water, food, and homes. Some chemicals are also synthetic, and are used in everyday products from medicines to computers to fabrics and fuels. Other chemicals are not made deliberately but are by product of chemical processes. Many chemicals are used to improve the quality of our lives and most are not harmful to the environment or human health. However, some chemicals have the potential to cause harm, in certain amounts, and should only be used when the potential risks and appropriately managed. How do the chemicals affect the environment? Chemicals can enter the air, water, and soil when they are produced, used or disposed. Their impact on the environment is determined by the amount of the chemicals that is released, the type and concentration of the chemical, and where it is found. Some chemicals can be harmful if released to the environment even when there is not an immediate, visible impact. Some chemicals are of concern as they can work their way into the food chain and accumulate and or persist in the environment for many years.
What are some of things we can do to help the environment? There are many things we can do to help protect the environment. One thing we can start doing is reading all of the information on the product labels and use chemicals only as directed. Informed consumers can often find safe alternatives for many harmful chemicals that are found in products they use, which are better for the environment. It is also important to be familiar with municipal waste and recycling programs so that you can properly dispose of products such as batteries and plastics. Other actions to protect the environment can include walking short distances instead of driving and ensuring your car is running peak efficiency to reduce gasoline consumption.
Another topic that really affects our environment and ecosystem is acid rain. What is acid rain? Acid rain is rainfall made sufficiently acidic by atmospheric pollution that it causes environmental harm, typically to forests and lakes. The main cause is the industrial burning of coal and other fossil fuels, the waste gases from which contain sulfur and nitrogen oxides, which combine with atmospheric water to form acids. Acid rain really affects the wildlife and fishes. The ecological effects of acid rain are most clearly seen in aquatic environments, such as streams, lakes, and marshes where it can be harmful to fish and other wildlife. As it flows through the soil, acidic rainwater can leach aluminum from soil clay particles and then flow into streams and lakes. The more acid that is introduced to the ecosystem, the more aluminum is released. Some types of plants and animals are able to tolerate acidic waters and moderate amounts of aluminum. Others, however, are acid sensitive and will be lost as the pH declines.
Generally, the young of most species are more sensitive to environmental conditions than adults. At pH 5, most fish eggs cannot hatch. At lower pH levels, some adult fish die. Some acidic lakes have no fish. Even if a species of fish or animal can tolerate moderately acidic water, the animals or plants it eats might not. For example, frogs have a critical pH around 4, but the mayflies they eat are more sensitive and may not survive pH below 5.5. It also affects plants and trees. Dead or dying trees are a common sight in areas affected by acid rain. Acid rain leaches aluminum from the soil. That aluminum may be harmful to plants as well as animals. Acid rain also removes minerals and nutrients from the soil that trees need to grow. At high elevations, acidic fog and clouds might strip nutrients from trees’ foliage, leaving them with brown or dead leaves and needles. The trees are then less able to absorb sunlight, which makes them weak and less able to withstand freezing temperatures.
Acidification is also happening at the same time. Melting snow and heavy rain downpours can result in what is known as episodic acidification. Lakes that do not normally have a high level of acidity may temporarily experience effects of acid rain when the melting snow or downpour brings greater amounts of acidic deposition and the soil can’t buffer it. This short duration of higher acidity can result in a short term stress on the ecosystem where a variety of organisms or species may be injured or killed. Acid rain also creates nitrogen pollution. It’s not just the acidity of acid rain that can cause problems. Acid rain also contains nitrogen, and this can have an impact on some ecosystems. For example, nitrogen pollution in our coastal waters is partially responsible for declining fish and shellfish populations in some areas. In addition to agriculture and wastewater, much of the nitrogen produced by human activity that reaches coastal waters comes from the atmosphere.
Another thing that acid rain affects is the materials on building and basically everything that it touches. Not all acidic deposition is wet. Sometimes dust particles can become acidic as well, and this is called dry deposition. When acid rain and dry acidic particles fall to earth, the nitric and sulfuric acid that make the particles acidic can land on statues, buildings, and other manmade structures, and damage their surfaces. The acidic particles corrode metal and cause paint and stone to deteriorate more quickly. They also dirty the surfaces of buildings and other structures such as monuments. One last thing not only does acid rain affect the environment, but it also affects us humans ourselves. Walking in acid rain, or even swimming in a lake affected by acid rain, is no more dangerous to humans than walking in normal rain or swimming in non-acidic lakes. However, when the pollutants that cause acid rain SO2 and NOX, as well as sulfate and nitrate particles are in the air, they can be harmful to humans.
SO2 and NOX react in the atmosphere to form fine sulfate and nitrate particles that people can inhale into their lungs. Many scientific studies have shown a relationship between these particles and effects on heart function, such as heart attacks resulting in death for people with increased heart disease risk, and effects on lung function, such as breathing difficulties for people with asthma.
Another topic that affect the environment is climate change. Impacts from climate change are happening now. These impacts extend well beyond an increase in temperature, affecting ecosystems and communities in the United States and around the world. Things that we depend upon and value water, energy, transportation, wildlife, agriculture, ecosystems, and human health are experiencing the effects of a changing climate. Changes to water resources can have a big impact on people’s lives. In some regions, particularly in the western United States, drought is an important factor affecting communities. Less snow accumulation in the mountains is important in the West and Alaska, where the snowpacks stores water for later use. In the Midwest and northeastern states, the frequency of heavy downpours has increased. In many regions, floods and water quality problems are likely to be worse because of climate change.
Our food supply depends on climate and weather conditions. Although agricultural practices may be adaptable, changes like increased temperatures, water stress, diseases, and weather extremes create challenges for the farmers and ranchers who put food on our tables. Human health is vulnerable to climate change. The changing environment is expected to cause more heat stress, an increase in waterborne diseases, poor air quality, and diseases transmitted by insects and rodents. Extreme weather events can compound many of these health threats. Ecosystems are also affected by climate change. Habitats are being modified, the timing of events such as flowering and egg laying are shifting, and species are altering their home ranges. Changes are also occurring to the ocean. The ocean absorbs about 30% of the carbon dioxide that is released into the atmosphere from the burning of fossil fuels. As a result, the ocean is becoming more acidic, affecting marine life. Rising sea levels due to thermal expansion and melting land ice sheets and glaciers put coastal areas at greater risk of erosion and storm surge. As a result, world’s average surface temperature has increased by around 0.6 degrees Celsius over last 100 years.
The changing climate patterns have already made significant impact on our planet. Melting of polar ice caps, change in rainfall patterns, increase in frequency of hurricanes, storms are few of the adverse effects of climate change. Scientists predicted that due to ongoing activities contributing to global warming, the average global temperature could increase between 1.4 and 6 degrees Celsius in the 21st century. Climate change in the arctic, average air temperatures in the region have increased by about 5°C over the last 100 years. Recent data shows that there’ll be almost no summer sea ice cover left in the Arctic in the next few decades. The effects won’t just be felt by the habitats and species such that rely upon this area – they’ll be dramatic in the entire northern hemisphere. In Antartica, the Antarctic ice sheet is the largest single mass of ice on earth, accounting for around 90% of all freshwater on the earth’s surface and spanning almost 14 million sq km. This ice plays a vitally important role in influencing the world’s climate, reflecting back the sun’s energy and helping to regulate global temperatures. Parts of the west Antarctic Peninsula are among the fastest-warming places on earth. Even small-scale melting is likely to have significant effects on global sea level rise.
It is also affecting our forests, the Forests are vitally important as they soak up carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas responsible for global warming, and help regulate the world’s climate. They’re also home to countless plant and animal species. We’re working with communities, local governments and businesses to ensure the world’s forests are protected. It impacts vary in different kinds of forests. Sub-Arctic boreal forests are likely to be particularly badly affected, with tree lines gradually retreating north as temperatures rise. In tropical forests such as the Amazon, where there’s abundant biodiversity, even modest levels of climate change can cause high levels of extinction. The impacts of deforestation are When large areas of forest are destroyed it’s disastrous for the local species and communities that rely on them. Dying trees emit their stores of carbon dioxide, adding to atmospheric greenhouse gases and setting us on a course for runaway global warming.
These are some of the topics that Environmental Engineers research about. Many of them require many research and experiments to be able to help the environment. To become an Environmental Engineer you have to have a bachelor’s, and many some type of training before entering the workforce. They also make really good money, they range from an average of $62,520 to $102,930 a year.
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