Mechanical engineering goes hand in hand with the change of climate. Whether it’s the machining and building of structures that are directly contributing to climate change, or the result of the climate change that engineers need to take in account for their next project; engineering relates to climate change. I will attempt to shed light on both of these viewpoints which relate mechanical engineering to climate change.
Mechanical engineering deals with the designing and building of systems, devices, and the maintenance of structures. This process of building requires the use of heavy machinery and power sources, which happens to produce large amounts of greenhouse gasses on such a level that it upsets energy balance. These machines give off massive amounts of carbon dioxide, as a result of burning fuel, that, as we know, is the primary greenhouse gas forcer of climate change. Earth Eclipse’s writer Sonia Madaan states, “In itself it is not a particularly warming gas, but the amount that we are emitting into the atmosphere makes it the most damaging”. It is safe to say that any engineering field that utilizes heavy machinery and requires a massive amount of fuel, causes damage to our atmosphere. Engineering areas such as agriculture, industrial production, manufacturing and many more, all play a role in greenhouse gas emission and the poisoning of our atmosphere. Another factor in the relation of engineering and climate change is the topic of waste. Some engineered waste products can decompose and cause carbon dioxide and methane gas to be created. Similar to carbon dioxide, methane is also a gas that contributes tremendously to global warming and climate change.
On another perspective, mechanical engineering is also then affected by climate change. As designers and builders, engineers have to account for every aspect of their designs and structures. Climate change and global warming are now topics that they need to consider when in the process of designing technology and structures. The Environment and Food ministry of Denmark states, “Buildings can be vulnerable to climate change. In the future there may be an increase in the risk of collapse, declining health and significant loss of value as a result of more storms, snow or subsidence damage, water encroachment, deteriorating indoor climate and reduced building lifetime”. Engineers need to adapt to these drastic changes of the climate to produce designs and structures that can withstand these disasters. The warmer climate can reduce a building material’s properties and affect the indoor climate of buildings. For engineers, these are just a few factors – that relate to climate change – they need to account for when designing modern structures.
Whether we acknowledge or ignore the relation of climate change to our everyday life, the facts are there to show, it affects us all in some way. The mechanical engineering field makes it an objective to research the change in climate to adapt and regulate designs accordingly. This knowledge is very critical in securing safety and lowering potential losses. Although engineering machinery can contribute to greenhouse gas emission, this field has helped humanity progress in many ways. The real question is; how can we as engineers continue to benefit mankind while caring for our planet and slow down the effects of climate change?
Climate Change Impact on Nature, en.klimatilpasning.dk/sectors/buildings/climate-change-impact-on-buildings.
“Natural and Man-Made Causes of Climate Change.” Earth Eclipse, 6 Feb. 2016, www.eartheclipse.com/climate-change/natural-and-man-made-causes-of-climate-change.html.
“Our Favorite Climate Cartoons from Tom Toles, Washington Post.” Climate Action Reserve ICal, www.climateactionreserve.org/blog/2013/06/13/our-favorite-climate-cartoons-from-tom-toles-washington-post/.