Look­ing to the fu­ture

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - POST GRADUATE -

Dr Yap Poh Sin, en­vi­ron­men­tal epi­demi­ol­o­gist and se­nior lec­turer at In­ter­na­tional Med­i­cal Univer­sity, ex­plains that pro­fes­sion­als who work within the fields of en­vi­ron­men­tal health are im­por­tant as they are con­cerned with pro­tect­ing hu­man health from harm­ful bi­o­log­i­cal, phys­i­cal and chem­i­cal ex­po­sures in the en­vi­ron­ment.

“Their re­search will be used by au­thor­i­ties to sup­port pol­icy de­ci­sions and en­force com­pli­ance with leg­is­la­tion that pro­tect or im­prove the health of the pub­lic,” she says.

Prof Andy Chan, as­so­ciate dean for re­search in the fac­ulty of en­gi­neer­ing at The Univer­sity of Not­ting­ham Malaysia Cam­pus, agrees that de­spite the con­tri­bu­tions of sci­ence, tech­nol­ogy and en­gi­neer­ing, the in­tro­duc­tion of tech­nolo­gies has brought along some detri­men­tal ef­fects to mankind.

How­ever, he adds that it is for this rea­son en­gi­neers need to make valu­able con­tri­bu­tions to sus­tain­abil­ity while de­vel­op­ment con­tin­ues to progress in all tech­no­log­i­cal sec­tors.

“The con­cept of sus­tain­abil­ity is now fully em­bed­ded in the dis­ci­pline of en­gi­neer­ing – to do all th­ese things that we have been do­ing with­out cre­at­ing a li­a­bil­ity for the fu­ture.

“This is the role of cur­rent state en­gi­neers and en­vi­ron­men­tal en­gi­neers and they are specif­i­cally trained to per­form this role,” says Prof Chan. so­ci­eties are es­ti­mated to use up to 40% more re­sources than needed ev­ery year.

The find­ing is all the more wor­ry­ing as it is es­ti­mated that there will be twice as many megac­i­ties in the fu­ture with the world pop­u­la­tion pro­jected to in­crease to 9.6 bil­lion peo­ple by 2025.

“Par­tic­u­larly in grow­ing cities, MAN­U­FAC­TUR­ING sus­tain­able prod­ucts in­volves high costs. But be­sides this bar­rier to the adop­tion of sus­tain­able tech­nolo­gies and de­sign, gen­eral de­vel­op­ment and wealth gen­er­a­tion ap­pear to take cen­tre stage in the hearts of many – both in­di­vid­u­als and busi­nesses.

Univer­siti Kuala Lumpur pro­gramme man­ager As­soc Prof Dr Robert Thomas Bach­mann says com­pa­nies are of­ten forced to meet high sales tar­gets and firms listed in the stock mar­ket have to con­stantly sat­isfy their share­hold­ers with high prof­its and mar­ket share to en­sure con­tin­ued in­vest­ment.

“To in­crease sales and gen­er­ate more in­come, prod­ucts are of­ten de­signed in such a way that are ei­ther out of fash­ion af­ter some time or de­signed to fail af­ter a cer­tain pe­riod.

“The life­style the econ­omy pro­motes seems to have a more tech­nol­ogy and eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment play their part in find­ing a so­lu­tion for sus­tain­able strate­gies to re­duce pol­lu­tion, en­ergy waste and nat­u­ral re­sources, and re­duce the dis­ease bur­den of hu­man health,” says Dr Yap.

The prob­lem, how­ever, does not stem purely from the ex­is­tence of in­no­va­tive tech­nol­ogy ma­te­ri­al­is­tic fo­cus,” he says.

“If so­ci­ety does not com­plain about pol­lu­tion and if the prices for nat­u­ral com­modi­ties re­main low, sus­tain­abil­ity is not a top pri­or­ity.”

Be­tween the is­sues of sus­tain­abil­ity, re­source de­mands and gen­eral de­vel­op­ment, the no­tion that th­ese fac­tors can grow hand- in- hand is, how­ever, a pos­si­bil­ity, ac­cord­ing to Prof Andy Chan, as­so­ciate dean for re­search in the fac­ulty of en­gi­neer­ing at The Univer­sity of Not­ting­ham Malaysia Cam­pus.

He be­lieves so­ci­etal pri­or­ity is some­times down to the cul­tural back­ground and his­tory of var­i­ous na­tions.

Prof Chan raises the ex­am­ple of how China as a de­vel­op­ing coun­try cur­rently pri­ori­tises de­vel­op­ment over sus­tain­abil­ity while Euro­pean coun­tries are famed for putting sus­tain­abil­ity

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dy ed by s . w how rable prod­uct that uses eco friendly ma­te­rial that is easy to main­tain and re­pair,” he says.

He ex­plains that the ma­jor ob­sta­cle fac­ing most com­pa­nies, how­ever, is the high costs in­volved in be­ing an eco- con­scious com­pany.

“In re­gards to pol­lu­tants re­leased dur­ing pro­duc­tion, are com­pa­nies will­ing to make the and nat­u­ral con­ser­va­tion above any de­vel­op­ment – mak­ing it al­most a cor­ner­stone in all de­vel­op­ment ef­forts.

He be­lieves that proper plan­ning, vi­sion and en­force­ment are needed to over­come this global prob­lem.

Ac­cord­ing to Dr Yap Poh Sin, en­vi­ron­men­tal epi­demi­ol­o­gist and se­nior lec­turer at In­ter­na­tional Med­i­cal Univer­sity, “Achiev­ing sus­tain­able liv­ing will re­quire change in in­dus­trial pro­cesses, in the type and amount of re­sources used, and in the prod­ucts that are man­u­fac­tured.

“Sus­tain­abil­ity de­pends on the evo­lu­tion of en­ergy tech­nolo­gies, the ef­fi­cient func­tion­ing of pub­lic in­fra­struc­ture such as wa­ter and sewage sys­tems, in­no­va­tive biotech­nol­ogy and an in­for­ma­tion tech­nol­ogy rev­o­lu­tion,” she says.

While civil and en­vi­ron­men­tal

Prof Chan, Dr Yap and As­soc Prof Bach­mann agree that education is vi­tal in spread­ing sus­tain­abil­ity aware­ness to the masses and rep­re­sents the first step to global leg­isla­tive re­forms.

“We can high­light sus­tain­abil­ity is­sues to gov­ern­ments via pro­fes­sional so­ci­eties and en­gage in dis­cus­sions with all stake­hold­ers to jointly de­velop so­lu­tions.

“In­ter­na­tional col­lab­o­ra­tion be­tween in­sti­tutes of higher learn­ing can also help to in­di­rectly in­flu­ence gov­ern­ments to train the next gen­er­a­tion of en­gi­neers or en­hance the knowl­edge and skills of ex­ist­ing work­force within gov­ern­ments and in­dus­tries to de­velop holis­tic so­lu­tions that are eco­nom­i­cal, en­vi­ron­men­tally friendly and ac­cept­able to so­ci­ety,” says As­soc Prof Bach­mann. en­gi­neers carry the bur­den of in­tro­duc­ing more fea­si­ble and en­vi­ron­men­tally friendly prac­tices and prod­ucts, the changes nec­es­sary for a health­ier world re­mains the re­spon­si­bil­ity of all.

As­soc Prof Bach­mann says, “If so­ci­eties strive for a lux­u­ri­ous life­style as com­monly show­cased in Western coun­tries, one planet is not enough.

“Ef­forts to stim­u­late the civil and en­vi­ron­men­tal en­gi­neer­ing sec­tor must be driven by real de­mand.

“If so­ci­ety does not want to ac­cept the pol­lu­tion of air, wa­ter and land, and is will­ing to al­lo­cate a big­ger por­tion of its house­hold in­come to­wards sus­tain­able prod­ucts and ser­vices, politi­cians and pol­icy mak­ers will re­act – al­low­ing civil and en­vi­ron­men­tal en­gi­neers to play a more im­por­tant role,” he says.

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