Energy, Technology, and the Environment
From the earliest times when human beings lived in hunting/gathering communities to the modern era, humankind has adapted and survived. Life continues from generation to generation, and we hope that our offspring will have better opportunities and a better quality of life in a more prosperous social system than our own. Prosperity is closely related to energy, which plays a vastly important role in our daily lives. The use of energy, however, will generate by-products that, unchecked, can devastate our ecosystem. The areas of our concern are air pollution, water pollution, and toxic hazardous waste disposal.
In response to air pollution problems, the U.S. Congress adopted the Clean Air Act (CAA) in 1963, authorizing federal research funds for air pollution related research activities. The CAA underwent several amendments. In 1965, the CAA enacted the establishment of automobile emission standards; in 1970, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was formed, in part to determine National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS); in 1977, requirements to offset emissions from new sources in non-attainment areas were mandated; in 1990, toxic substances control and global warming research were addressed. In 1997, NAAQS was further revised (see Appendix A).