Climate Change effects on engineering
As inhabitants of planet Earth, it is of paramount importance to ensure its continued survivability and sustainability. One of the predominant issues affecting the world is climate change. Climate change has always occurred throughout Earth’s history (National Aeronautics and Space Administration NASA, n.d.). However, in recent years, climate change has become significant, on account of an unprecedented increase in Earth’s temperature compared to the past (NASA, n.d.). The sudden rise in the Earth’s temperature is mainly attributed to the surging emission of greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide (NASA, n.d.).
Figure 1. Graph showcasing carbon dioxide level throughout Earth’s history (NASA, n.d.).
Climate change has a devastating impact of the Earth’s sustainability. Examples include exacerbating extreme weather events such as droughts and hurricanes causing widespread damage, lowering agriculture productivity to shifting weather patterns and endangering marine life through destroying their natural habitats like shrinking polar ice and bleaching coral reefs (Environmental Defense Fund EDF, n.d.).
Figure 2. Shrinking polar ice threatening habitats of polar bears (EDF, n.d.).
Effects of climate change on the engineering industry
The implications of climate change are likewise widespread in the engineering industry. For instance, transportation and infrastructure can be majorly affected by extreme weather events (EDF, n.d.). This may damage key infrastructures, disrupt electrical supplies and affect how people commute. (EDF, n.d.)
In addition, rising sea levels, compounded with a significant increase in the frequency and intensity of rainfall events, would pose imminent flood risks to coastal cities without effective drainage systems (National Climate Change Secretariat NCCS, 2017)
Figure 3. Image showing a hurricane (EDF, n.d.).
Moreover, it is essential to consider the impact of climate change when planning the design life of engineering projects (Lapp ; Eng, 2005). Projects with supposedly design lives of 20 to 50 years may not withstand as long resulting from the substantial changes in climate (Lapp ; Eng, 2005).
Recommendations and limitations
The consequences of climate changes are inevitable, therefore, incorporating strategies to counteract the effects are important (Lapp ; Eng, 2005). Firstly, slowing the rate of climate change via reducing greenhouse gases emissions (Lapp ; Eng, 2005). The engineering industry can employ new techniques in designing and constructing buildings to develop more sustainable or green infrastructure (Lapp ; Eng, 2005).
Figure 4. Khoo Teck Puat Hospital, a green, sustainable building (Khalik, 2017).
Furthermore, it will be wise to prepare for the increased probability and consequences of severe natural hazards (Lapp ; Eng, 2005). Perhaps by adjusting current infrastructure to be more resistant to extreme weather like tsunami-proof and earthquake-resistant buildings, thus, minimizing the destruction caused (Lapp ; Eng, 2005).
Another particularly important strategy is to put together groups of engineering infrastructure experts to identify and recommend research and development projects (Lapp ; Eng, 2005). These groups will assist in reviewing existing national standards and policies, and provide advice to federal government departments to reduce climate change (Lapp ; Eng, 2005).
However, take note that these recommendations beget some limitations in terms of escalating the financial expenditure and human resources necessary (Au-Yong, 2017).
National Aeronautics and Space Administration, NASA. (n.d.). Climate change: How do we know? Retrieved October 26, 2018, from https://climate.nasa.gov/evidence/Environmental Defense Fund, EDF. (n.d.). How climate change plunders the planet. Retrieved from https://www.edf.org/climate/how-climate-change-plunders-planetNational Climate Change Secretariat, NCCS. (2017, December 27). Drainage and Flood Protection. Retrieved October 30, 2018, from https://www.nccs.gov.sg/climate-change-and-singapore/adapting-to-climate-change/drainage-and-flood-preventionLapp, D., ; Eng, P. (2005, March). Engineers and Climate Change: What you need to know. Retrieved October 30, 2018, from http://www.ieeeottawa.ca/tmpcsit/ClimateChangeFeature.pdfKhalik, S. (2017, December 14). Digital image. Retrieved October 30, 2018, from https://www.tnp.sg/news/singapore/khoo-teck-puat-hospital-harnesses-power-nature-healingAu-Yong, R. (2017, January 10). Parliament: Green buildings cost up to 5 percent more, but savings ‘more than offset’ costs. The Straits Times. online Available at: https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/parliament-green-buildings-cost-up-to-5-per-cent-more-but-savings-more-than-offset-costs Accessed 2 Nov. 2018.