Engineering and development

Engineering and - Chapter 9 Engineering and Development One of the most important applications of engineering is to development It seems obvious

Info iconThis preview shows pages 1–4. Sign up to view the full content.

View Full Document Right Arrow Icon
Chapter 9 Engineering and Development One of the most important applications of engineering is to development. It seems obvious that it’s more important to work on providing a population with clean water than on providing a generation of teenagers with smaller cell phones. My own involvement with engineering from development started with a trip through South Asia in 1971, before I went to college to study mathematical physics. I passed through Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India and Nepal, concluding that if I was ever going to re-visit these countries, I’d like to do so as a worker coming to help alleviate poverty, rather than as a tourist staring at starving children. In college, doing my degree, it occurred to me that it was diFcult to see any connection between making progress in physics and improving the condition of the people I’d seen starving. 1
Background image of page 1

Info iconThis preview has intentionally blurred sections. Sign up to view the full version.

View Full DocumentRight Arrow Icon
2 CHAPTER 9. ENGINEERING AND DEVELOPMENT I also realised that the traditional route to development wasn’t necessarily the right one; there seemed to be a number of ambitious, capital-intensive projects that had ended in failure. 9.0.1 Hydroelectric Dams On Frst sight, the hydroelectric dam looks like a good technology for a devel- oping country – a renewable energy resource, non-polluting, providing water resources for irrigation. Yet these projects frequently fail to deliver what’s promised: when the Awash river was dammed in Ethiopia, for example, ±ooding downstream decreased, with the result that the valley downriver became arid and mass starvation followed. The downstream population had to move from downriver to upriver, leading to tribal warfare. Dams tend to silt up – as the ±ow of the river is slowed, it deposits the mud and sand carried in the water, Flling in the space behind the dam and blocking the turbine inlets. The Ambuklao dam in the Phillipines was predicted to last for 60 years, lasted 32. The Kamburu dam in Kenya had a useful lifespan of less than 30 years because of silting. In China, the Sanmenxia dam on the Yellow River was completed in 1960, decommissioned in 1964 due to silting. The Three Gorges Dam, planned for the same river, is expected to su²er from the same problems. The large bodies of water created by dams also foster malaria and bilharzia, and the rotting of vegetation drowned by the newly formed lake creates methane, which is a more powerful greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide.
Background image of page 2
3 9.0.2 Failure of Big Technology Dams and other big technologies tend to be inappropriate for the devel- oping world, for reasons pointed out by E.F. Schumacher: they are capital- intensive, while the developing world lacks capital; they require skilled labour, while the developing world has a surplus of unskilled labour; they require imported materials; and, perhaps most important, organising a big project requires large-scale social organization. This is more di±cult than we realise. Big projects in our society rely on a web of trust and responsibility. This does
Background image of page 3

Info iconThis preview has intentionally blurred sections. Sign up to view the full version.

View Full DocumentRight Arrow Icon
Image of page 4
This is the end of the preview. Sign up to access the rest of the document.

This note was uploaded on 10/07/2009 for the course ENSC 6229 taught by Professor Johnjones during the Fall '08 term at Simon Fraser.

Page1 / 13

Engineering and - Chapter 9 Engineering and Development One of the most important applications of engineering is to development It seems obvious

This preview shows document pages 1 - 4. Sign up to view the full document.

View Full Document Right Arrow Icon
Ask a homework question - tutors are online