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293766204 - Engineers And The Environment 1 Engineering...

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Engineers And The Environment 1. Engineering Codes and the Environment Engineering responsibility for the environment is necessarily closely related to the laws governing environmental matters. Usually, however, no single individual was sufficiently harmed by pollution to be motivated to bring suit against a polluter. To a certain extent, the government is ineffective in controlling pollution. In some government, like the Congress of US, they enact "a national policy which will encourage productive and enjoyable harmony between man and his environment .... " One of the best-known provisions is the requirement for an environmental impact statement, which enumerates the effect of a project on the environment. In the light of widespread skepticism on the part of managers, what are the responsibilities of professional engineers with regard to the environment? The first canon requires engineers to "hold paramount the safety, health and welfare of the public in the performance of their professional duties." Insofar as environmental issues have a clear relation to human safety and health, therefore, the engineering profession has already committed itself to a concern for environmental protection and perhaps even improvement. For example, engineers already have an obligation to concern themselves with pollution, when it affects human health. The codes give little direction, however, as to how this concern should be implemented. What kinds of policies with respect to the environment should engineers advocate? If engineers have an obligation to promote a clean environment in order to protect human health, how do they determine what is "clean"? A still wider issue is raised by the fact that some environmental problems do not raise issues of human health. Suppose an engineer is asked to participate in the design of a dam that will destroy a section of "wild river" and flood thousands of acres of farmland. He may believe that this is an unwarranted destruction of a natural state and even bad social policy. If an engineer objects to such, should she do so as an engineer or as a concerned citizen? In other words, should the objection to environmental degradation not involving dangers to human health be a matter of professional ethics or personal ethics? Consider another example. An engineer may be asked to design a condominium project that will be built in a wetlands area. She may be concerned about the resource depletion that will be accelerated by a chemical process, or the destruction of plant species that will result from an engineering project. Can an engineer object to such projects on the basis of her role as an engineer, or should she make clear that she is objecting as a citizen? Again, should such objections be made on the basis of professional ethics or personal ethics?
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