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Ethics, Innovation and Technology - Essay Example

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Ethics, Innovation and Technology Introduction Engineers play a significant role in the contemporary society. They have developed technology and knowledge that are beneficial to the humankind. Among the major technologies developed by the engineers is the deepwater oil drilling…
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Ethics, Innovation and Technology

This has led to banning of deep oil drilling and thus created a heated debate on whether to permit or ban deep oil exploration. Ethical issues have been raised on deep oil drilling. Deep Oil Drilling The constant and ever increasing need for fossil fuels (particularly gas and oil) has pushed exploration and drilling industry to drill in very (ultra) deep waters (more than 2,000 meters water depth) with the wells being drilled to depths more than 7,500 meters. These forms of wells are very costly to drill and complete with expenses up to approximately 100 million United States dollars. According to the Energy Information Administration, the world needs for energy are increasing at an estimated rate of 1.5 to 2.0 percent per year. The United States National Energy Council report predicts that, by the year 2030, the energy demand for gas and oil will increase by 50 to 60 percent. The current total estimated oil stands at 1,258 trillion barrels and with the present oil consumption at 86 million barrels of oil per day, the hydrocarbons in place are estimated to be there in the next 42 years (Kelessidis 2009, p220). Ethical Issues Surrounding Deep Oil Drilling Ethical concerns are usually raised after a tragic accident. This was certainly true in the case of the 2010 deepwater drilling spill in the Gulf and other countless oil spills documented throughout the universe in the last century. It was only after the engineers were confronted with the graphic, photographic imagery of numerous oil soaked marine life and birds, and heard the testimonies of the Gulf coast residents (whose culture was adversely threatened) that they began to focus their attention as a society on the imminent disaster. As a profession, engineers seem reluctant to deal with the ethical issues involved. The rate at which the new technologies are converging and emerging and the damage caused by these accidents (like the Deepwater Horizon oil spill) on the reputation and the integrity of the profession, it seems imperative that the profession adapts a new, comprehensive ethical approach. The approach to be adapted has to be capable of dealing with the technical issues involved and the social and environmental implications (Catalano 2011, p1). On 20 April 2010, a number of explosions cut across the giant oil-drilling rig (the Deepwater Horizon) situated in the Gulf of Mexico, 48 miles from the shore. From the blast, 114 workers survived, and 11 others were never found. The rig collapsed and sunk two days after burning at the sea, destroying the steel piping and opening an oil volcano that released into the Gulf approximately 200 million gallons of crude oil. Deep-ocean, wetlands, beaches, and coastal waters were devastated by the spillage of the crude oil. Wildlife habitat and wildlife from Texas to the Florida Keys were adversely threatened. Countless families and individuals who rely on the Gulf waters for their way of life and their jobs were devastated emotionally and economically. The Deepwater Horizon oil spill disaster has raised many ethical issues on the engineering profession (Catalano 2011, p1). These issues include; what exactly occurred, the role played by the engineering profession in regard to the disaster, how such disasters can be prevented in the future, ethical responsibilities, in events like the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, and if the codes of conduct developed by the engineers are adequate (Catalano 2011, p2). Impact of Deep Oil Drilling The Deepwater Hor ... Read More
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