DEFINITION of ‘Environmental Engineering’
Environmental engineering is the branch of engineering tasked with finding solutions to the challenges affecting life on this planet. Ever since humans began living in large populations, there has been a need to solve problems with scientific reasoning. From finding solutions for waste disposal and recycling to improving public health, drinking supplies and managing pollution, radiation, ozone depletion and global warming, environmental engineers have played a dominant role. Like other fields of engineering, the principles of mathematics and science are engaged to a logical end however, in this case, the focus precisely pinpoints environmental issues.
BREAKING DOWN ‘Environmental Engineering’
Historically, environmental engineering played a part in the creation of aqueducts (1) to supply clean water and sewage systems (2) to deal with waste water. Nowadays, the discipline can be found across all industries. As new technologies come into play, it falls to environmental engineers to study their effects and determine effective methods for risk mitigation. They primarily work as technical consultants, partnering with industry to develop procedures to properly dispose of waste and to minimize adverse environmental impacts. In disasters such as oil spills (3), environmental engineers are often called on to manage the clean-up, ensuring affected ecosystems are duly respected.
Increasingly, environmental engineers are becoming savvy in environmental law as they are often asked to give testimony as experts and in many cases are involved in the drafting of new regulations.