Presentation on theme: "Ethics and Engineering Confronting the Energy Challenge Yvonne Raley."— Presentation transcript:
Ethics and Engineering Confronting the Energy Challenge Yvonne Raley
Did you know? The U.S. currently uses 25% of the worlds oil supply – about 20 million barrels per day But the U.S. makes up only 5% of the worlds population The U.S. uses 15 times more energy per person than developing nations But the U.S. produces only 10% of the worlds oil supply
Where we get our oil CanadaMexico Saudi Arabia NigeriaVenezuela and about 10 other countries
The Future Current Oil Demands U.S.: 20 million barrels / day World: 78 billion barrels per day China: 5.2 billion barrels / day 2025 Oil Demands U.S.: 27.3 billion barrels / day World: billion barrels / day China: 14.2 billion barrels / day
The Future By 2025, the worlds largest economy is expected to be….
What we do with all that oil
Renewable energy As you can see, renewable energy, such as WindSolarHydro-power only provides 6.1% of the U.S. consumption of energy
And that's too bad because 7 billion tons of CO 2 is put into the air each year, 5 of which are produced by burning fossil fuels (coal, oil) The other 2 tons are produced by deforestation But only 4 billion tons of CO 2 can be absorbed by the oceans and plants
And the rest? The three remaining tons are a main contributor to the greenhouse effect (global warming)
Not Good If global temperatures rise in the way predicted that is between 1.4 and 5.8 Degrees Celsius in the next 100 years, …
… the following may occur Rise in Sea Levels and a Shift in Coastline Major Changes in Weather Patterns Droughts, Water Shortages Change in Biodiversity
The Upshot We need to reduce our demand for oil
Reducing our demand for oil Just a good idea or a moral obligation?
Moral Obligation Environment: helps reduce global warming Fairness: increases availability of oil for developing nations Sustainability: we wont run out of available resources
We are all involved Marketing Sales Consumption Design Production
How do we determine what our obligations are?
Moral Theory A moral theory can help. What does a moral theory do? It helps us answer ethical questions It helps us decide what course of action is morally right It provides an explanation of why a course of action is right
Moral Theories There are several moral theories. Not all of them provide the same answers to moral questions. But each of them captures an important aspect of morality.
Utilitarianism For this talk, we focus on just one theory, called utilitarianism. What is utilitarianism?
One Principle Utilitarianism relies on one simple principle, the principle of utility: Whatever is good or right is that which promotes the greatest overall utility What is utility?
What is desirable? British Philosopher Jeremy Bentham had a very simple way of determining utility: Utility = promotes pleasure Disutility = promotes pain
Utilitarianism can then be defined like this The morally right act, for any particular situation, is the act that produces the greatest amount of overall pleasure.
Effects Utilitarianism basically measures right and wrong in terms of the effects it produces. An action is right if it produces pleasure for those affected by the action. An action is wrong if it produces pain for those affected.
Example For instance: Running someone over with your car is morally wrong because it produces pain. Helping a friend in need is morally right because it produces pleasure.
How to measure effects Now we need just one more thing. How do we measure the effects of our actions? Bentham provided four ways of measuring an actions effects.
How to measure effects Scope: Who/ how many people will experience pleasure / pain? Duration: How long does the pleasure / pain last? Intensity: How intense or strong is the pleasure / pain? Probability: How likely is the pleasure / pain?
Back to Energy Lets see if we can apply utilitarianism to a moral question about the energy challenge. Does utilitarianism morally obligate us to invest in the technology of hybrid cars?
What does investing mean? 1. Buy a hybrid car 2. Promote the purchase of buying hybrid cars 3. Improve hybrid technology For engineers, the last of these is most relevant
The Effects of Hybrids Lets start by considering the scope of hybrid technology: Who is affected by hybrid technology?
Scope The owner The environment (or everyone who needs utilizes the environment) Global needs (those in other countries who also want to use transportation) So thats pretty much everybody.
But not to the same degree. Thats where the other three ways of measuring effects come in.
Measuring Effects We have to measure the durationintensityprobability Of all the effects for all of those concerned. This is hard.
Duration, intensity, and probability of the following effects for OWNERS: Pleasure Gas savings Tax rebate Pleasure gained by helping environment Pain Purchase price Battery life Repair costs
D uration, intensity, and probability of the following effects for ENVIRONMENT: Pleasure Reduction of fossil fuel emissions: decrease in global warming Decrease in pollution: reduction of asthma, other respiratory problems, cancer
D uration, intensity, and probability of the following effects for the worlds population: Pleasure Reduction of US dependence on foreign oil: reduction of political tension Increase in available oil for other countries Pain Oil price decrease: decrease of incentive for other countries to lower consumption
Theres more We might also consider the following: Unemployment rates in U.S. or other countries Other technologies that might be better: biodiesel, or smaller, lighter vehicles that simply use less gas (Smartcar), electric cars Improvements in public transportation
Its not easy As you can see, it is not easy to weigh all of these effects. But utilitarianism suggests that we must. We cannot just consider whats good for us, we have to look at everyone concerned.
Other Applications to Engineering Utilitarianism can be used to evaluate the moral impact of many technological changes
Such as…. What are our moral obligations to invest in or improve the following:
Wind energy Wind energy Solar energy Solar energy Energy efficient appliances Energy efficient appliances Energy efficient housing design Energy efficient housing design Insulation Insulation Reducing energy transmission and distribution losses Reducing energy transmission and distribution losses Energy efficient pumps and motors Energy efficient pumps and motors