The Start of New Civil Engineering

Society is made up of innumerable little parts, each working together in tandem for the greater good of the whole. This is a pretty important idea but it is also very abstract and can be hard to grasp on its own terms. To better understand this idea, let’s take a brief look at one specific system that we never seem to think about though our entire society seems to run on it. Trash collection, for instance. Now, for trash collection there are a few key elements we need to make it work. To start, we need a stable group of willing employable people who can help collect the trash. Without an able bodied and ready population, there simply is no municipal trash collection. Humans, after all, are the most vital element in any human based system and society, as a whole, is a human based system. Until we can collect trash with massive flying drones, and alas one day perhaps, we will have to rely on human power for this endeavor. The next critical facet we need in our trash collection system is an effective machine system that can transport the trash. In the old days it was horses and buggies. Well, truth be told, in the old days, it was mostly throw the trash out in the street and hopefully someone will eventually come to clean it up. We’ve had a municipal waste collection system for awhile but it wasn’t so readily handy until we started to have some motor vehicles on hand. Before the advent of intense industrialization there simply wasn’t that much waste produced except in large scale cities and, even then, most people sort of just tossed it in rivers or wherever. Some bigger early cities burned their trash but this was sporadic and didn’t happen everywhere. Specifically human waste is an entirely different problem that we’ll get into in a little bit but non human waste was just kinda of dealt with on a case by case basis until our cities and towns were fully mechanized and, by necessity then, started to generate very large amounts of non human trash. The last and final element we need, after people and a transportation method, is a place to store all of the waste which is still the trickiest part. Though we lave large landfills today, we need ever more space for this waste and finding that place is going to be one the trickiest problems of the new century.
Watershed Management and the Problem of Human Waste
It is no secret by now that our other waste and infrastructural problems, whether they be transportation planning, traffic engineering, urban development, watershed management, roadway design or whatever they happen to be, are growing exponentially by the year. Money simply is not flowing into civil engineering like it used to and that is causing big problems for bridges, roads and sewers. Many people think this is a problem that will not affect us in the near future but, unfortunately, those people would happen to be very wrong. Our sewer system, for instance, might seem mundane, even boring, but without a well kept sewer system our society is simply going to stop functioning. Maybe not in the short term but definitely in the long term when compounded with other problems. When sewer pipes burst or leak, it can lead to all sorts of long term damage, whether it be problems with watershed management or accidentally poisoning the communities that the pipes are supposed to serve. One of the main problems is that people don’t grasp the scope of the infrastructure problem overall. A city like Los Angeles generates thousands and thousands of pounds of human waste every day. That is a lot of waste to deal with and although much of it gets treated, if even a little bit of that gets out into the environment, then there are going to be major problems. Watershed management problems, environmental collapse, you name it, it might happen. The same can be said of bridges, for example, that are not kept in form. We need to start taking care of these problems for future generations or there won’t be any society left for them to enjoy.

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