I am writing this by not only entitling myself as an engineer but also it is my curiosity and borrowing Dr. Anastas’s believed to be ‘optimistic’ to see what the world are now and what do we need to make it better.
We all know that our way of live in the world is not sustainable because we always keep polluting and deteriorating our environment. We use energy from carbon fuel continually that later polluting environment, creating climate change but actually unsustainable to supply the magnified demands. We also use water resource excessively to irrigate our farming land and to purify metals for many technology applications. Then, we come up with green energy to reduce adverse effect of greenhouse gases emission; we use wind energy, solar panel, biofuel, geothermal etc. However, we also realize that green energy solution is not a whole comprehensive solution. It creates other problems: Green energy technology needs rare earth materials supplies which imposed tremendous environment impacts during mining processes. Other green energy resources such Biofuel has made conflicts between ‘energy’ and ‘crops stocks’. Biofuel also has affect serious degradation on forestry area as I knew exactly what was happened in my country, Indonesia that deforestation occurred due to change in land use to plant biofuel resources. To add, food that has been modified genetically to urge supplies over food demands to prevent hunger has a lot of problems such as plants are so vulnerable to disease since it has been contaminated by chemicals in pesticide and soil fertilizers. These have been a serious threat to the world.
From this view, many pessimistic say that every step that we took just went wrong and it is such an unreasonable to get perfect or sustainable solution. However, I am an optimistic that even technology and innovation always have positive and negative impacts, I believe that there is no everlasting absurdity.
How do we pace on sustainability path?
To conquer the objective of sustainable engineering, three pillars of Social, Economy and Environmental should be laid down as the patch to walk. It is a socially global thinking that is followed by local and global action to increase quality of life that reflecting cares to the environment. It is not only simply done by speaking to giant industry to change the product to be biodegradable or making good policies to strictly based on environment but It is more than that.
Globally, there are facts showing that among developed and developing countries are not on the same page of viewing what our current live is and what can be done to make it better. Gaps between developed and developing countries have diverged perspective on what so called as the more urgent right now. Such developing countries are still striving to alleviate the standard of people living from poverty and providing a very basic need of life; while developed countries are on different path about to lay down the programs of improving their quality of life. In my opinion, I should say that it should not be like that way. The developed countries could not work alone, in fact only a few of developed countries who have starting to set the path of sustainability. I believe that to find solutions the developed and developing countries should always be at the same pace increasing sustainability as well. The concept of that the developed countries can work alone is misguided. Only by sharing information, cooperating and increasing awareness are the only way cut out from our unsustainable way of live right now. Possibility to reduce environmental impacts is by utilizing the green taxes concept. The concept is to charging companies with high taxes for any toxic and non-biodegradable products. Again, this is not a good solution since it is more liked a-trade-of while the deterioration of environment is continuously happening. Though it works some time, but we cannot really count on it.
Fundamentally, it should be started from household and any environment that we live in. Emulating awareness, striving to find alternatives and consistency demanding on sustainable are the keys that should be taught in class, seminar, public discussion intensively. These keys are actually trying to touch the underline basis on sustainable pillars that should be goes on and aligned to the same pointing out of direction.
Science and technology has made significant change into our life by doing many modifications to people’s demand. However, things that we know are that current deterioration is also largely contributed by low awareness to environment impacts either during processes, modification or product results. However, at some points of innovation, science has trying to produce a good path toward sustainability by placing current product with green foot print product. Essentially, without science, we will going nowhere since only science which will essentially found the fundamental of what sustainability is.