Agriculture Reference
In-Depth Information
gas propellants such as chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and instead using pressure
differential systems (such as physical pumps) to deliver medicines illustrates the
green view in the public's interest. This may seem like a small thing or even a
nuisance to those who have to use them, but it reflects an appreciation for the
importance of incremental effects.
Recalling Kant, one inhaler does little to affect the ozone layer or threaten
the global climate, but millions of inhalers can produce sufficient halogenated
and other compounds that the threat must be considered in designing medical
devices. To the best of our abilities, we must ensure that what we design is
sustainable over its useful lifetime. This requires that the designer think about the
life cycle not only during use, but when the use is complete. Such programs as
design for recycling and design for disassembly allow the engineer to consider
the consequences of various design options in space and time. They also help
designers to pilot new systems and to consider scale effects when ramping up to
full production of devices.
Like virtually everything else in design, best service to the public is a matter of
optimization. The variables that we choose to give large weights will often drive
the design. Designing structures, products, and systems in a sustainable manner is
a noble and necessary end. The engineer must continue to advance the state of the
science in high-priority areas. Any possible adverse effects must be recognized.
These should be incorporated and weighted properly when we optimize benefits.
We must weigh these benefits against possible hazards and societal costs. Unfor-
tunately, many of the green benefits do not easily lend themselves to monetary
Environmental policies have not always been in lockstep with justice. In fact,
environmental causes have too often been in direct opposition to social justice.
Green design objectives must always be viewed within the context of fairness.
To paraphrase the harm principle, even if a project is very green, it may not
be sustainable if certain segments of society suffer inordinate hazards and risks.
Examples include the use of environmental impact assessments to stop affordable
housing projects and decisions to site an unpopular facility, such as a landfill,
factory, or power plant, in a manner that garners the least complaints. At first
glance, such decisions appear to be sound means of selecting a site. However,
these types of decisions frequently have been the result of heeding those with the
loudest voices and the most potent political and economic power at the expense
of those not so endowed. This type of institutional injustice brings about an
inordinate burden of pollution on the poorer neighborhoods and communities.
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