Materials engineering is a popular field, as it tries to discover new materials of doing the ordinary things so as to minimize cost and resource. One of the discoveries in material engineering is plastic. It is used for many of our household products such as eating utensils, chairs and even cabinets. Cheap and light as it may seem, plastic has large costs especially to our environment. There are about 5 billion to 1 trillion plastic used every year around the globe (Wittenberg, 2009). It has certainly helped lighten way of doing things but "plastic bags, plastic bottles, and other synthetic materials have contributed to the world's biggest garbage dump, the Great Pacific Garbage Patch in the Pacific Ocean" (Wittenberg, 2009). Plastic does not just hurt our oceans but also our wildlife. "Every year over 1 million marine mammals, reptiles and birds, succumb to death by plastic bags. Animals can become entangled with them which may result in loss of limb or death and routinely ingest them" (Wittenberg, 2009). Since plastics take time to decompose, they absorb toxic chemicals like PCBs and DDE from the surrounding water, thus the ocean animals that fed on them get a dose of deadly synthetic compounds (Wittenberg, 2009). Plastics are also found to be "full of poisons that kill living things including people" (Lundberg). They contain cancer-casing petrochemicals such as lead, cadmium, mercury, dioxins, PCBs (Lundberg).
Aside from plastic, there...
Many people are concerned about the environment. Not a few movements and organization were established to address the concerns regarding the environment degradation and climate change.
One of the most powerful tools in abating the use of harmful materials is government policy. In the Kyoto Protocol, for example, industrialized countries promised to reduce their green house gas emission by a certain percentage so as to lessen the danger to the environment. The use of plastic can also be drastically reduced in the same manner. Ireland, for example has instituted "Plastax" which taxes the use of plastic by 20% per bag. This has reduced the use of plastic by 90% (Wittenberg, 2009). Government policy addressed to reduce the use of plastic can be through a direct circular or in a way of encouragement. The latter is the style of both the US and Australian government. The Australian government, particularly instituted a "voluntary program for retailers to reduce the use of plastic bags", where more than ninety percent of retailers have signed-up (Wittenberg, 2009).
A new brand of engineering, the geo-engineering continuously examines the ways to reduce the emission of carbon dioxide in the environment. This can be done through large scale engineering projects "which would help to cool the planet" such as the mammoth floating parasol "which would act like a blanket of cloud to shade parts of the earth from the sun" (Wittenberg, 2009). Other scientists also suggest the idea of injecting sulphate particles into the stratosphere as they would block and reflect the sun's rays back into the atmosphere (Wittenberg, 2009). This works like a volcanic eruption, which would cause a temporary