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Note for Sustainable Engineering - SE by Ravichandran Rao

  • Sustainable Engineering - SE
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  • APJ Abdul Kalam Technological University - KTU
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MODULE 1- SUSTAINABILITY Syllabus Covered:  Sustainability- Introduction  Sustainability- Definition  Sustainability- Need & Concept  Social Sustainability Concept  Environmental Sustainability Concept  Economic Sustainability Concept  Sustainable Development  Nexus Between Technology And Sustainable Development  Challenges to Sustainable Development  Multilateral Environmental Agreements And Protocols  Clean Development Mechanism (CDM)  Environmental Legislations In India – Air Act, Water Act 1. SUSTAINABILITY- INTRODUCTION The concept of sustainability become so important nowadays, because of the irreparable damage caused to the environment by industrial civilization & consumerism, which originated about 3 centuries ago. They were based on the following wrong assumptions:     Earth belongs to the humans only Ignore the fact that humans are part of the Earth's biosphere Earth's stock of resources are infinite Environment can bear any amount of damage that is caused by human activity. The advantages & disadvantages of industrial civilization & consumerism are listed below:Advantages 1. Flourished the economy 2. Improved the living quality of the society Disadvantages 1. Caused irreparable damage to the environment 2. Pose a threat to the life support systems of earth. 3. E.g.1.The hole in the ozone layer surrounding our planet as a shield against the dangerous ultraviolet radiation from the sun 4. E.g.2. Increased carbon dioxide content and greenhouse gases in the atmosphere that cause global warming

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Several warnings concerning the instability of Earth’s life support systems have been raised in the recent times. In 1992, some of the world’s senior scientists from 70 countries, signed and sent an urgent warning “The environment is suffering critical stress…” to the government leaders of all nations as part of the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (the “Earth Summit”) held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. This marked the beginning of the concept sustainability. Sustainability is based on a simple principle: Everything that we need for our survival and wellbeing depends, either directly or indirectly, on our natural environment. Sustainability creates and maintains the conditions under which humans and nature can exist in productive harmony, that permit fulfilling the requirements of present and future generations. Sustainability is important to making sure that we have and will continue to have, the water, materials, and resources to protect human health and our environment. 2. SUSTAINABILITY- DEFINITION Sustainability is the ability to achieve continuing economic prosperity while protecting the natural systems of the planet and providing a high quality of life for its people. 3. SUSTAINABILITY- NEED & CONCEPT Sustainability has three components, which are inter-related, as shown in Fig.1: 1. Environment 2. Society 3. Economy Fig.1. Environment-Economy-Society Inter-relation Environment gives resources, raw materials to the Economy for production activities. Economy creates products and sells it to society for use. Production by Economy and Consumption by Society lead to the following environmental impacts.

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1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. Exhaustion of Resources – Water, Petroleum, Forests Loss of Biodiversity - Extinction of Animal/Plant Species due to Water, Soil, Air Pollution Deforestation - conversion of forestland to farms, urban use etc. Ozone Depletion - reduction of the amount of ozone in the stratosphere due to the emission of chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs). CFC/s emitted from the industries, rises to the Stratosphere. Sunlight breaks CFCs to release Chlorine. Chlorine reacts with Ozone and destroys it. Acid Deposition – results in acid rain, acid fog and acid mist. Desertification - type of land degradation in which a land region becomes dry, typically losing its water bodies, vegetation and wildlife. Eutrophication - form of water pollution occurs when excessive fertilizers run into lakes and rivers. This encourages the overgrowth of algae and other aquatic plants. Global Warming - gradual increase in the average temperature of the Earth's atmosphere and its oceans, caused by increasing concentrations of greenhouse gases – Carbon oxides, Nitrous oxides, sulphur oxides, Fluorocarbons The environmental impact, caused by economy on production and society on consumption, leads to the following damages to human life. 1. Fresh water scarcity 2. Climate change 3. Exposure to toxics in food, air, water and soil 4. Emerging diseases 5. Food insecurity resulting in poverty 6. Energy scarcity due to depletion of non-renewable resources 7. Ecosystem damage and habitat loss due to pollutant discharges 8. Sea level rise The need of sustainability is to reduce these damages and create a livable planet earth for the future generations. For this, United Nations presented the following key sustainability concepts:- Intergenerational equity – Expects the present generation to hand over a safe, healthy and resourceful environment to the future generation. Intra-generational equity – Emphasize the technological development should support economic growth of the poorer section, so as to reduce the gap between nations. Sustainability means balancing environment, society and economy, as shown in Fig 2. Fig 2: Sustainability

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4. SOCIAL- ENVIRONMENTAL AND ECONOMIC SUSTAINABILITY CONCEPTS The concept of sustainability is based on the basis that people and their communities are made up of social, economic, and environmental systems that are in constant interaction and that must be kept in harmony. SOCIAL SUSTAINABILITY There are six principles of sustainability that can help a community ensure that its social, economic, and environmental systems are well integrated and will endure. A community or society that wants to pursue sustainability will try to: 1. Maintain residents’ quality of life. Quality of life has many components: income, education, health care, housing, employment, legal rights. Each locality must define and plan for the quality of life it wants and believes it can achieve, for now and for future generations. 2. Enhance local economic vitality. A viable local economy is essential to sustainability. This includes job opportunities, sufficient tax base and revenue to support government and the provision of infrastructure and services, and a suitable business climate. 3. Promote social and intergenerational equity. A sustainable community’s resources and opportunities are available to everyone, regardless of ethnicity, age, gender, cultural background, religion, or other characteristics. Further, a sustainable community does not deplete its resources and destroy natural systems. 4. Maintain the quality of the environment. A sustainable community tries to find ways to co-exist with natural environment and ecosystem. It avoids unnecessary degradation of the air, oceans, fresh water, and other natural systems.

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