Environmental engineers use a combination of biology, chemistry and engineering to develop solutions to environmental problems. Their goal is to make people happier and healthier by developing ways to use resources efficiently and responsibly.
Women aren’t a new occurrence in engineering, but until recently the field has been primarily dominated by men. In today’s world, even in the states that have the highest number of female graduates with engineering degrees, women still only make up, at most, 22% of graduates and 14% of working engineers.
That hasn’t stopped these amazing women from making some astonishing discoveries, though. Let’s take a closer look at the advances that women are making in engineering and how schools are trying to get more girls interested in the field.
Although it’s crucial to focus on personal actions for improved sustainability, it’s also a good idea to stay up-to-date on potential climate policy initiatives in the works on a larger scale. Here are some of the ones you should keep in mind during the year ahead and for the foreseeable future:
The first industrial revolution started in the 18th century, and most people know it as an era that spurred the development of the steam engine and contributed to more urbanization. Several other industrial revolutions followed, and a common thread among them was that each period had tremendous technological advances. We’re now in the fourth industrial revolution (4IR). How might it affect the Earth?
Professor Klaus Schwab, founder and executive chairman of the World Economic Forum, argues that it’s fundamentally different from previous revolutions. The earlier ones helped humans break free from their dependence on animals and gave them access to the digital world, plus furthered mass production. However, this era blends the physical, digital and biological worlds through a range of technologies.
Climate change is a global issue, and around the world, countries have organized renewable energy initiatives to reduce their environmental impact. These projects and programs reflect a society more conscious of its footprint, aware of the effect of carbon emissions and excessive waste on the planet’s health.
Though it’s a slow transition — and some are still reluctant to accept the change — the United States is moving closer to clean energy every day. While the president has made his position clear, state leaders across the nation continue to push for renewables as they distance themselves from fossil fuels.
Overseas, policymakers have shown the same dedication to preserving the environment, developing plans to decrease their dependence on coal, oil and natural gas. We’ll touch on a few of these ambitious initiatives and others like them, exploring projects in Tunisia, Nicaragua, Wales and China.
About one-third of the food the world produces each year for consumption by humans gets wasted or lost. In fact, they throw away up to $2,200 in food per year. This creates a financial burden for families as well as waste companies and municipalities that must determine what to do with all this waste. New York City, for example, spends about $400 million each year shipping the waste it collects to landfills and incinerators across the country.
This wasted food also has a significant environmental impact. It represents a lot of wasted resources — not just the food itself, but also the land, water and energy it took to produce it. Food decomposing in landfills also releases a gas composed of approximately 50 percent methane and 50 percent carbon dioxide, both of which contribute to the greenhouse effect. Landfills are responsible for about 14 percent of human-related methane emissions in the U.S.
There are various efforts underway to prevent this food waste and its negative impacts. In 2015, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) set the nation’s food waste reduction goals, which aimed to cut waste by 50 percent by 2030.
As public concern over climate change increases, more people see the need for sustainable energy production. Traditional power generation relies on burning fossil fuels like coal and natural gas, a process which releases the warming greenhouse gas carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Renewable energy sources like wind and solar aim to produce essential energy without the carbon emissions.
The popular demand for 100 percent renewable energy, reflected in public opinion and policy in states like California, has lead to increased investment in wind and solar power in recent years. Despite growing interest in renewable energy, it remains unclear whether renewable energy alone can get us to a zero-carbon future.
Wind and solar power represent great potential for clean, renewable electricity. However, they may not fill all the world’s energy needs by themselves. Let’s examine wind and solar as a path to 100 percent renewable energy and consider possible alternative solutions.
America’s Trump-Republican government has rendered its judgment on climate change with vast silence and outlined its renewable energy policy by doubling-down on coal. We thought Trump’s renewable energy policy would reach “peak contrarian” when we pulled out of the Paris Climate Accord. But the truth is, we’ll scarcely have a single environmental regulation on the books by the time this administration is shown the door.
The good news is, there’s lots of good news. We don’t have to get partisan about the damage done when the wrong people get elected. Let’s focus instead on the undeniable momentum behind the pivot to renewable energy, despite Trump’s renewable energy policy.
Understanding that the U.S. is just one piece of the global puzzle, and that what’s happening here is raising consciousness elsewhere in the world, might help our current political situation feel slightly less sad and regressive. So let’s jump into the good news about why renewables are set to prevail no matter who’s at the helm.
Heat pumps are an integral part of many homes’ HVAC systems, used for heating and cooling. They are found in homes around the globe, but until recently, experts haven’t started looking at heat pump environmental impact. How can your heat pump impact the environment and what can you do to improve your home’s carbon footprint?
Solar energy has been heralded as one of the technologies that will revolutionize the way we get our energy and help mitigate the damage traditional energy use has done to the planet. It does have many environmental and economic benefits, but how efficient is solar energy compared to other renewable energy sources? And how big of a difference does that really make?