After several years of schooling, I have discovered some very interesting concepts that relate to environment, economy and society.
Anyone interested in industrial ecology, the fundamental aspect of "T" in the I PAT equation, the one only method for saving our planet is a systematic approach to cycling all waste and byproducts into functional products. It is a concept to treat our planet as a spaceship with limited resources.
An update on my efforts:
I never thought I would go in the route of environmental management and policy-making, when I first started my degree and it's definitely a concept that is not well-accepted by industry and has actually digressed in Canada. In the near future though or once humanity is independent of an oil-based economy, there will definitely be a great demand of this type of career, even though you will be hated for your decisions. My professor for my industrial ecology course has discussed with me the very negative reality:
With 25 years of bitter experience – I am a non-believer in energy conservation education, waste management education etc etc. They only way to change people is ‘make them pay’. Carbon Tax (people with conserve and use better clean energy because it is cheaper) (but Canadians voted this out). Raise the price of power – people conserve instantly (but Canadian governments refuse to do this). Make people pay for their waste – they change their practice overnight. Make heating your home more expensive – poorly designed homes loose valve and people pay for renovations. Etc. etc. This has been demonstrated in study after study, product after product. ‘Society’ refuses to pay for better environmental practices and products - period. But there is always hope in the new generation
Anyone interested in making a difference to the environment should consider becoming an environmental lawyer (reactive although chance for precedent cases), working in an environmental consulting firm (reactive), or focus on environmental management and policy-making (proactive). These books are good starting places:
"An Introduction to Environmental Law and Policy in Canada" by Muldoon, Lucas Gibson, Pickfield (if you're Canadian)
"Applications in Ecological Engineering" by Svenerik and Jorgensen
"Environmental Chemistry" by Colin Baird and Michael Cann
"Applications in Ecological Engineering" is probably one of the greatest books that I have read in 4-5 years. While ecological engineering is generally not considered a part of industrial ecology, it does utilize the inherent value of nature into engineering practices. While it may be considered an exploitation of nature, compared with other forms of engineering, it is one of the most benign forms, simply because it takes a system that can potentially equilibrate within an open system, thus perpetuating its own existence without worrying about lifecycle, which is a major problem in engineering design nowadays as resources become more expensive and it is typically cost-effective to recycle material.
In the future, I plan on doing work that involves taking previous industrial facilities, agricultural land, etc. and turning it into wetlands, essentially making this ANUS flier
a reality. While this is a more reactive approach, perhaps I am bitter toward my experience in engineering, but this approach of reverting it back to a natural state seems like it would be very rewarding. We'll see how it goes!