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Nearly 800 million people worldwide are undernourished. Environmental engineers can help drive solutions that close this gap even as the world’s population grows.
By 2050, there are likely to be an additional 2.6 billion people to feed. Reducing food waste is critical to sustainably feeding our growing population.
2.8 million people experience water scarcity for at least 1 month of every year. Environmental engineers are advancing 21 st – century solutions in the areas hit hardest.
If greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise in the 21st century, Earth could warm by as much as an additional 8.6°F (4.8°C) by 2100. The greater the warming, the greater the impacts. Environmental engineers can help reduce emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases or remove them from the atmosphere and adapt to the impacts of climate change on people, ecosystems, resources, and infrastructure.
Sea – level rise is projected to affect 200 million people and permanently displace 4 million this century. With a systems view, environmental engineers can help cities adjust to the new normal
Each degree of warming (Celsius) is expected to cause a 200 to 400 percent increase in the area burned by wildfire in western states. Environmental engineers are poised to help communities build for resilience.
There are at least 126,000 hazardous waste sites with residual contamination in the United States alone. New environmental engineering strategies are needed to build on the past half- century of remediation achievements.
One of every six deaths in 2015 — about 9 million deaths worldwide —can be attributed to disease from exposure to pollution. By preventing pollution, environmental engineers can help save lives.
About 80% of consumer goods are trashed after a single use with no plan or ability to be reused,recycled or biodegraded. Environmental engineers can improve design for the full life cycle.
The future is increasingly urban.As people are drawn to the opportunities and conveniences of urban areas, cities will absorb almost all of the world’s projected growth, adding more than 2 billion people by 2050.
Although cities only occupy 3 percent of Earth’s ice – free landmass, they produce 50 percent of global waste and 60 to 80 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions. Cities account for 60 to 80 percent of the world’s energy use and 75 percent of all natural resource use.
If city infrastructure were designed to support multiple city functions in integrated ways, cities could become more equitable, efficient, healthy, and resilient. Environmental engineers bring unique training and analytical skills to work with other professions — for example, energy and transportation — to creatively develop this new vision of cities.
The grand challenges identified in this report will manifest differently in different communities, and many efforts to address these challenges will play out on a local scale. Different communities have different values and priorities, and these should inform how problems are identified and addressed. In addition, the solutions that work in one community may not work in another. For successful adoption, it is crucial that innovations and approaches be acceptable and usable by the communities for which they are intended.
Educating the public can be an effective strategy to drive widespread action or attitude change.Successful public information campaigns, such as those launched to raise awareness of the problems associated with smoking or forest fires, clearly state the problem and provide simple actions that can be taken to address the problem (“only you can prevent forest fires”).
To foster informed decisions and actions, environmental engineers should work in collaboration with decision makers, stakeholders, and other experts to increase the public’s understanding of the consequences of their choices, identify problems, create solutions, and support efforts to develop effective policies.