Current Economic and Environmental Issues in Engineering
One of the prevailing issues that impacts the modern engineering profession is globalization.
Globalization refers to the growing interdependence of the world’s populations, economies, and cultures, which is fostered by international trade and exchanges of information and people (Wall, 2010). Globalization has influenced many modern industries, including engineering sectors. Today, the engineering practice has an increasingly global identity. Engineering professionals are able to work around the world. The expansion of engineering services on a global scale provides increased economic opportunities for engineers. Clients seeking engineering services can secure higher quality and more competitive services from engineering contractors around the world. Globalization also has the potential to improve environmental responsibility among engineers on a global scale. Since engineering has an increasingly global outlook, there are more efforts to ensure professionals around the world conform to similar standards of practice. Some of these standards relate to the environmental aspects of engineering activities, and they uphold engineers to universal commitments to environmental objectives (Wall, 2010).
However, despite the economic benefits of globalization, the development has created some challenges for engineers that may have adverse economic and environmental consequences. For one, despite efforts to uphold uniform global engineering standards, there are many inconsistencies that prevent the fulfilment of this ambition. Engineers in different countries operate under different environments from their education and training to their practice. In this sense, it is impractical to uphold engineers to the same global standards of practice. The implication of this reality is that while some engineers may commit to environmental goals, engineers from other countries may have priorities that do not align with environmental goals (Calà, et al., 2019). Clients that seek engineering services may sometimes prefer engineering companies that adhere to laxer environmental policies in their operations. An example is multinational corporations that outsource their activities to foreign engineering firms that operate in countries that lack strict protocols for environmental protection. Oftentimes, such engineering subcontractors also tend to charge cheaper fees for their services. For this reason, globalization makes it easier for companies to forego their environmental responsibilities by finding engineering contractors who are less likely to adhere to tough environmental regulations.
Besides globalization, another issue that has a significant economic and environmental impact on the modern engineering profession is resource strain. Over the past century, there has been a rapid increase in development around the world. Regions like China have undertaken very rapid economic growth over a short period. This development has created a serious strain on natural resources. There have been increased fears over protracted economic growth coming at the expense of the depletion of certain finite resources in the near future (Wall, 2010). Engineers around the world are responding differently to these fears. In developed countries, engineers are upheld to increasingly strict standards for environmental protection in their practice. An example is in the fact that many American university programs for engineers include dedicated courses on sustainable engineering practices. These programs are intended to help future engineers to be aware of the impact that their activities have on the environment, and to equip them to practice engineering in ways that protect and preserve the environment.
However, other regions of the world have different economic priorities that may supersede their environmental interests. In a general sense, developing countries have fewer restrictions relating to the impact of engineering projects on the environment. It is difficult to reconcile the inconsistencies in environmental standards between developed and developing countries because of the underlying economic variations that lead to different priorities for engineering stakeholders (Calà, et al., 2019).
There is a need to pursue a more cohesive engineering outlook that represents shared interests for protecting the wellbeing of the environment and humankind. It is possible that continued globalization will eventually culminate in global engineering standards that uphold engineers to the same environmental obligations regardless of the economic contexts of their practice.