Dr. Leo Oriet
15 November 2018
The worlds populations has been increasing dramatically over the past 100 years. During the 20th century alone, the human population has increased from 1.65 billion to over 6 billion. The world is limited in space, food, water and energy. This drastic amount of people on the earth causes a lot of environmental problems around the world. These environmental problems include water shortages, pollution, poverty, inequality, human suffering, starvation, and wars around the world. Water is one of the most important factors of living and almost all organisms need water to survive. Only 2% of earths water is fresh and drinkable. The food people consume and the water people drink are quickly running out. With the dramatic increase of the human population, the world also faces many problems with oil and fossil fuel shortages. The majority of all machinery, such as cars, trucks, planes, trains, etc. uses these fuels to operate them. Burning these fuels release harmful products into the environment that cause global warming. Engineers around the world have been addressing the problems of fossil fuel shortages and global warming around the world caused by over population. Engineers are problem solvers and have designed and built infrastructure, machinery, tools and technology to help solve this over population problem. The engineering society’s contributions in delivering effective solutions and systems allow humanity to overcome the water, food and fuel shortages and environmental problems.
Fresh water is the most important factor of life. Plants, animals and humans all need fresh water in order to survive. We use fresh water to grow crops, to run industrial factories, and for sanitation facilities, to name a few. Water tables all around the world have been drastically falling, as the worlds population has tripled over the past 50 years and is climbing. Even in countries that have access to water, the water isn’t necessarily clean and drinkable. The water crisis has also had many health effects on many individuals because they are drinking water that is not filtered. Approximately over 3 billion people lack access to sanitation services meaning they only drink/use unclean water. As the worlds population constantly increases it makes it harder to give people access to clean water. Engineers around the world have been trying to find ways to solve the water shortage problem (http://www.overpopulation.org/water.html). In 2012, NASA announced that they had created an advanced water filtration device for individuals who lack clean water. This technology that was originally developed for the space station was now being used for high risk areas so they can now have access to a water purification system. Nonprofit organizations including Concern for Kids (CFK) has helped install these water purifiers for countries such as Malaysia, Iraq, and Indonesia (https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/benefits/water_purification.html). There are many counties that don’t have access to fresh water but only sea water. Drinking salt water can make a person even more dehydrated, and enough of it can cause kidney failures and/or death (https://urbansurvivalsite.com/how-to-turn-salt-water-into-drinking-water/). Engineers have developed a way to obtain fresh water from the ocean by using special filtration techniques. This filtration method is called desalination, and there are over 120 countries that have desalination facilities around the world. As population increases more and more people need fresh water to stay hydrated and/or need it to grow crops for food. The energy development firm, Resolute Marine Energy (RME), has been testing wave-powered energy converters in order to power a desalination plant. Desalination plants use up a lot of energy and are very expensive to maintain. One of the converters is an immense paddle on a hinge that is anchored to the ocean floor. In this system, the paddles sway back and forth with the current and convert the waves mechanical energy into electric energy. The paddles can pump the seawater to a near by desalination plant and force fresh water through the membrane of the plant. This is done because the seawater is pressurized enough from the converters. Eshwan Ramudu, who led the study of the wave-powered desalinators found that an array of only 25 paddles could produce approximately 240 million gallons of fresh water per year. This wave-powered convertor would be a third of the cost of a diesel generator.
Water plays a major role in almost all living things but food is also very important to a persons life. The earth can only produce a limited amount of food and as population continues to drastically increase it will not be able to produce enough food to feed the entire population. The World Banks predicts that the demand for agricultural production will double by the year 2050. This is due to agricultural shortages from extreme weather events and water shortages. In developed countries an average of around 25% of food is thrown away after purchased, while in developing countries, approximately 50% of all agriculture is lost before even reaching the market. This is because of the techniques used to agriculture. For example, crops are over watered, under watered, or die from lack of storage or transportation of the food. Engineers all around the world have been trying to figure out different ways to control the amount of food produced and to control the amount of food that is wasted in the process. One of the ways is by using a technique called drip irrigation. Drip irrigation is a type of watering system that allows water to drip slowly into the roots of the plants, from either about the soil or underground. This system has the potential to save water which is very important because the world is running out of it. “Irrigating a farm can double the amount of food it produces” (https://www.engineeringforchange.org/news/ten-technologies-to-manage-a-crowding-world/). In order to feed a growing population without plowing over all the worlds natural areas, the world needs this type of irrigation. Many crops die from virus, mutations and/or bugs. Engineers have done experiments to improve the quality of the seed, so that the plant will be able to withstand all of these harsh environments or viruses. Many foods such as, corn, soybeans, potatoes, papaya, etc. are genetically engineered foods. By using genetic engineering techniques, it allows farmers or producers to have a greater control over a particular trait in a crop. This means a person can modify there crops to last longer or grow bigger. The benefits of genetic engineering are more nutritious food, tastier food, disease and drought-resistant, less use of pesticides, faster growing and increased supply of food with reduced cost, to name a few. By allowing the engineering community to genetically modify the food people consume it will overall benefit society in the future. As the world’s population is constantly growing it is necessary to have these types of techniques in order for humanity to continue survive.
Both food and water are very important for humanity to survive, but fossil fuels are needed to produce clean water and edible food. In order to create electricity, drive a car, cook on a stove, or even to manufacture a product, fossil fuels/oils are burned for energy. There is only a limited amount of these fuels on earth and they are running out at a rapid pace. As the population of the world constantly increases more and more people are using these fuels to do everyday things. Not only are these primary fuels running out but the burning of fossil fuels are very toxic to the environment. In the last century the demand for oil and gas have increased dramatically and this demand will keep on increasing as population goes up. The number of vehicles, industries and factories will constantly increase as the population grows. As a result there is a dramatic rise in the amount of CO2 (carbon dioxide) emissions in the air and these lead to global warming. Global warming causes the melting of polar ice caps, climate change, rise in sea leaves and an increased number of natural disasters/severe storms. Those are just to name a few of the consequences that the world might face due to this environment pollution. These fuels are very important to the world but cause terrible environmental effects. They believe that renewable energy sources that engineers have discovered will replace fossil fuels. Renewable energy sources include wind, solar, tidal, nuclear, hydroelectricity, radiant, biomass, etc. By using these renewable techniques it will reduce the amount of carbon emission on the planet, benefiting the world and society. Engineers have installed solar panels all over the world, and the earth receives approximately 170,000 terawatts of solar energy. This amount is energy into everything that requires power, and almost 40% of all new energy installations were solar powered (https://cleantechnica.com/2018/01/04/solar-power-will-replace-fossil-fuels/). Solar photovoltaic cells harness sunlight and convert it to electricity. This energy can be used to heat water, heat spaces or light up cities. Wind energy can now be harnessed by wind turbines to generate electricity. Hydroelectric power uses the water’s energy as it flows from higher to lower elevation, rotating hydraulic turbines to create electricity. Engineers have also developed better forms of insulation for your home so that less heat is lost. They have produced better Energy Star-rated consumer appliances that conserve more energy. Engineers have developed ways to re-use consumer goods and products by recycling them into other products thus reducing the reliance on fossil fuels. Electric cars are now being developed which will use a small combustion gas engine with an electric motor resulting in less reliance and dependency on fossil fuels. Biofuels such as ethanol have been developed so that there is less reliance on fossil fuels. Biofuels can be mixed with gasoline and used in current petrol engines as a replacement of gasoline (https://sciencing.com/list-of-ways-to-reduce-the-use-of-fossil-fuels-13636386.html). Renewable energy is very important in todays society and as population continues to grow the world will need this source of energy in order for humanity to still exist in the future.
Over population is very big problem in todays world and it can not be stopped. The number of people on earth will constantly grow and the only thing people can do is to create innovative ways to provide for all these people while keeping the negative environmental threats at a low level. Everyday many individuals waste great amounts of water and food. With population increasing CO2 emissions are sky rocketing and it is very hard to control. With water and fossil fuels running out humanity will soon come to an end if nothing is done to stop this. Fortunately, engineers all around the world have been coming up with innovative ways to help solve these problems of water shortages, food shortages, and fossil fuel shortages. The engineering society’s contributions in delivering effective solutions and systems allow humanity to overcome the shortages and environmental problems around the world caused by over population.
Dr. Leo Oriet