GEOL 106 (Jan 7-31).docx

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Department
Geological Sciences and Geological Engineering
Course
GEOL 106
Professor
John Hanes
Semester
Winter

Description
GEOL 106- Jan 7, 2013 The Dynamic Earth and the relationship between humankind and our ever changing planet Goals of GEOL 106 To help you ask the following questions and to find answers to them 1) what causes natural and anthropogenic hazards, disasters and catastrophes? 2) how do we minimize/maximize the risks associated with hazards, disasters and catastrophes? 3) how does an understanding of geology allow us to answer questions 1) and 2) Why has there been an increase in the impact of natural hazard events • increased population growth in general (and in the zones that are more disaster prone) (now at over 7 billion) • increased use of natural resources o humans can jump up and hit "nature" in the face o oil sands mining o Tanker-Train Derailment (New Brunswick, Jan 7, 2014) o the story of the Aral sea (nearly drained fro irrigating the land for cotton farming, exposed dry seabed to wind, pesticides in mud were blown toward the cities, became a hazard area)  big bodies of water have a moderating effect on nearby climate (Aral sea extended the cotton growing season, as the sea shrank, the cotton growing season shortened) Jan 9, 2013 • how do we manage the risks that these "natural" and anthropogenic (human created) hazards pose? o "Once a photograph of the Earth taken from outside is available ... a new idea as powerful as any in history will be let loose" Fred Hoyle (astronomer) o --> changes how we think of ourselves, when earth was seen as something so fragile from space, we realize that we have to take better care of it  increase in environmental laws, increased awareness o "it is so incredibly impressive when you look back at our planet from out there in space and you realize so forcibly that it's a closed system- that it... " (?) • 2007 = 50 year anniversary of Sputnik - Oct 4, 1957- first human made object that went into space • "the world changes as we learn to see it in new ways and the way we see the world depends on how we use it" from "hand END Technology and the Limits of Nature (1993) by David Ruthenberg • "Only one Earth- the care and maintenance of a small planet " (now the earth is seen as small and limited vs huge and vast from the early explorers) • "we made all the way to the moon to finally discover the Earth" William AAnders (1968) • view of the earth from space led to increased awareness of the fragility of the earth and the need to better understand it • the president of the USA commissioned a study of the earth system o --> what do we need to know in order to live in concert with this fragile earth? o scientific writings about "managing planet earth" "our previous planet- why saving the environment will be the next century's biggest challenge" o the "pearl" model of the earth --> it's valuable but fragile, needs to be kept in a protective shell The goal of the solid earth sciences (will be on handout) • to understand the past, present, and future behaviour of the whole earth system . From the environment where life evolves on the surface in the interaction between the crust and its fluid envelopes (atmosphere and hydrosphere) o we need to understand what's happening not only on the surface The objectives associated with this goal a) understand the processes involved in the global earth system- with particular attention to the linkages and interactions between its parts b) Earth system science - the earth system is a set of interacting subsystems • can't separate and isolate things like science tends to do, but have to look at how everything interacts • new approach to the stuyd of our planet is referred to as earth system science. Its practitioners strive to understand how the world works on a glbal scale by describing how it's parts and their interactions evolved, how they function today and how they may be expected to funciton in both the near and distant future • in this light, the earth system is seen as a set of interacting subsystems characterized by processes that vary Earth systems Engineering: The world as Human Artifact - by Brad Allenby • "manage the earth's complex systems and their dynamics is the next great challenge for the engineering profession" • Allenby claims that: humans have been engineering/ managing the earth since the start of the human race • claims that have been conducting earth system engineering (ESE) from the start of the human race How do we study the past? • study tree rings --> cut down a tree and expose the growth rings; each year a new growth ring is formed on the outside surface o thickness of ring can tell us about climate conditions --> thick = good growing season with lots of rainfall and ideal temperatures, thin = drought/dry year, scar from forest fire o can extract a plug sample from the tree bark to avoid cutting down the tree • look at ice cores from ice sheets - Greenland ice sheet o every year a pile of snow builds up, dust in the atmosphere gets trapped in the snow o annual ice layers build up, older ones at the bottom, youngest ones on the top surface o drill a hole down into the ice sheet to extract an ice core and study the layers o winter has darker layers because wind blows in more dust vs lighter layers formed in summer o can study the amount of lead concentration in the ice (ie. significant spike from the industrial revolution)  even 2000 years ago, Romans were smelting lead and were unknowingly affecting/engineering the earth  study of lead contamination in the ice cores from the ice sheets in Greenland  fire - burn off the land to grow crops • burning of vegetation releases CO2 into the atmosphere (greenhouse gas) Scale of earth system engineering/management "the earth is increasingly a product of human engineering" Brad Allenby We can certainly see the increase by simple observation (qualitatively) We can also quantitatively measure the increase • ex. how much material do humans move compared to the rest of natural processes? • human movement- ie. metal production, mining, oil, gas, rock; agriculture (measuring how much produce is grown) How do you measure the amount moved by other natural processes • measure sediment carried by rivers to the sea • humans move 4 TIMES AS MUCH AS OTHER NATURAL PROCESSES Jan 10, 2014 Chapter 1: pages 2-11 • introduction • 1.1 why studying natural hazards is Important • 1.2 Magnitude and frequency of hazardous events • 1.3 rule of time in understanding hazards pages 19-27 • 1.5 fundamental concepts for understanding natural concepts for understanding natural pressures hazards • 1.6 many hazards provide natural service function • 1.7 climate change and natural hazards We can QUANTITIVELY MEAUSRE THE INCREASE • ex. how much carbon dioxide have humans added to the atmosphere? • from coal production: ever since the industrial revolution there's been a significant growth • companies have to tell the government how much coal is being mined • coal = mainly carbon (C) • burn it with oxygen (O ) 2 • produces carbon dioxide (CO ) 2hich is a GREENHOUSE GAS --> gas warms the atmosphere, increase of global temperature) 1) measure it directly day after day (collect bottles of gas and measure how much CO i2 in the gas (ppm)) • we've only been doing this since the 1950's • Charles Keeling began measuring it at the top of Manua Loa volcano (Hawaii) 2) to go back farther in time, measure CO2 in air bubbles trapped in ice sheets in Antarctic and Greenland glaciers • this take us back to over 400 000 years ago • the levels of CO2 had a constant (roughly) plateau until the industrial revolution (humans made such a huge impact on the environment) How doe past ESE compare to future ESE? 2 main differences 1) SCALE : in past, was more local, less global 2) INTENT: in past, effects were unintended and unanticipated The first automobile --> lead to many negative environmental and health effects another example: Thomas Midgely "had more impact on the atmosphere than any other single organism in earth history" • in 1921, Midgley invented leaded gasoline (tetra-ethyl lead) o was used in white paint, had toxic effects on babies that chewed on paint in their cribs --> negative heath effects (lead poisoning and neurological damage) so lead was eventually banned • in 1930-31 Midgley invented Freon to be used in refrigerators o the first of the CFCs: chlorofluorcarbons --> breaks down OZONE in the upper atmosphere which protects the earth from the sun's UV rays Species Extinctions since 1800 --> ever since the 1900s, there's been an exponential number of species extinctions (a negative result of human impact) "The earth, as it now exists, is a human artifact" "It reflects the (frequently unintended and unconscious, but nonetheless real) design of a single species" - Allenby Why has there been such a dramatic increase in the impact of humans on the earth system? • exponential POPULATION GROWTH • advances in our TECHNOOGICAL CAPABILITY to make an impact on the environment o exponential increase in total amount of earth moved by humans o exponential increase of world oil consumption (even more rapid growth than world population)  in USA from 1900-2000, population grew 3.6 times, energy use went up 10 times • demand for increased HUMAN LEVEL OF AFFLUENCE o our rate of material production has been greater than our rate of population growth --> therefore our average level of affluence has gone up In the Allenby paper, he mainly discusses the "big picture" issues • But I would argue that ANYTHING THAT ANY OF US DOES IS EARTH-SYSTEMS ENGINEERING/MANAGEMENT • "when I hear the sigh and rustle of my young woodlands, planted with my own hands, then I know that I have some slight share in controlling the climate" - Anton Chekhov (1899) - Russian playwright o plants consume carbon dioxide and release oxygen as a waste by-product • Earth-system Engineering/Management credo: THINK GLOBALLY ACT LOCALLY --> everything you do has an impact on the earth • "there are no passengers on spaceship earth, we are all crew members" Marshall McLuham (1911-1980) Canadian philosopher of communication theory • "if the success or failure of the planet and of human beings depended on how I am and what I do, how would I be? What would I do?" R Buckminster Fuller - discovered the geodesic dome (very lightweight and strong structure) THERE IS GOOD MANAGEMENT AND BAD MANAGEMENT --> which will we choose? so Allenby calls for CONSCIOUS, CONTROLLED management/engineering or earth systems • Allenby: the question "to what end are humans engineering, or should humans engineer, the earth" o is a MORAL one, not a technical one! o we can do it, but should we? and if yes, to what extent? towards what end? • "the issue, then, is not whether we should begin Earth System engineering, because we have been doing it for a long time, albeit unintentionally. The issue is where we will assume the ethical responsibility to do ESE rationally an responsibly" • --> MORAL AND ETHICAL RESPONSBILTY In managing earth systems, THERE IS AN ETHICAL DIMENSION • you need to define your DESIRED ENDPOINTS • ie. you need to know where you are going • is the ultimate endpoint SUSTAINABILITY? (to not run out of resources) SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPEMNT • development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs -(our common future, world commission on environment and development - WCED 1987) "The sight of the immense masses of timber passing my window every morning constantly suggests to my mind the absolute necessity there is for looking into the future of this great trade. We are recklessly destroying the timber of Canada and there is scarcely a possibility of replacing it. " - Sir John A Macdonald 1815-1891 IS THIS SUSTAINABLE? • do you ecological footprint at www.myfootprint.org • how many earths would it take to support the whole population at your level of affluence? Jan 14, 2014 Is sustainability enough? --> no! Martini glass of the world --> 85% of the wealth (richest fifth, 1% of the wealth (poorest wealth) What is a suitable ethical framework for earth-systems engineering? • SUSTAINABILITY AND EQUITY (are equally as important) • "the wealth of the world's 300 wealthiest individuals is equal to the combined annual incomes of 41% of the human population" United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) 2000 report University of BC conservation biologist: "This is not rocket science. It way more complicated than that" "Minimizing the RISK and scale of unplanned or undesirable perturbations in such systems is an obvious ESE objective" -Allenby --> RISK MANAGEMENT EARTH-SYSTEM MANAGEMENT/ENGINEERING IS ALL ABOUT RISK ANALYSIS AND RISK MANAGEMENT • how to MITIGATE (geological) HAZARDS • ie. minimize damage and loss of life/injuries (similar approach used for ALL types of risks) • ie. earthquakes caused hundreds of thousands of deaths (we will do a detailed case study) Earthquake risk analysis and risk management • The government of Ontario proposes to build a nuclear power plant on Lake Ontario shore just west of Kingston • our task: carry out a risk analysis and risk management study, for the government, focused on SEISMIC RISH (ie. earthquake risk) we need to look at the GENERALAPPROACH to Risk analysis and risk management • we carry this out in order to minimize damage from hazards, disasters, and catastrophes • HAZARD: something which might cause harm to people (death, injury, property damage) o ie. avalanche, landslide o there are landslide on Mars: is there a hazard from Martian landslides? --> yes! there's human property (rovers and vehicles) on mars-- > if they get damaged, costs more money that could be allocated to other human resources • there are both "NATURAL" HAZARDS and ANTHROPOGENIC (human induced) HAZARD o ie. car crashes o both kinds are often intertwined (ie. ice storm + car crashes) We need to distinguish HAZARD from RESOURCE • RESOURCE: something that is useful to us • HAZARD: something which may cause harm to people (death, injury, property damage) • Water as a resource: to drink, wash, hydroelectricity • water as a hazard: flooding, drought o when the amount of a resource is below or above the "DAMAGE THRESHOLD", that resource becomes a hazard o ie. too much precipitation --> flooding hazard, too little precipitation --> drought hazard o "all substances are poison, there is none which is not a poison. The right dose differentiates a poison from a remedy" - Paracelsus o poison --> hazard, Remedy --> resource • "sewer" gas: Hydrogen sulphide o poison: when concentrations are too high, can be deadly o remedy: can help relax the blood vessels and help regulate blood pressure What's the hazard? • mosquitoes carrying malaria can kill millions of people • to kill mosquitoes, DDT was used but was then banned in most countries because of health risks • DDT- a hazard or resource? is DDT Africa's last hope to controlling deaths controlled by malaria? Hazard vs Resource • how do you decide what the DAMAGE THRESHOLD is? o partly by empirical observations and scientific studies o ultimately by societal "preferences" (ie. choices) Consider "POLLUTION" = HAZARD • the very notion of POLLUTION is culturally dependent- we define what is or is not "pollution" • note: over time, there may be changes n human tolerance/sensitivity to the hazard o damage thresholds may change over time note also the consequences of SYNERGY • snowfall in Kingston: skiing, recreation as a resource • wind turbines as a resource to generate energy • but SNOW + WIND = BLIZZARD --> HAZARD, WIND + WATER = MONSOON • each own its own might be a "resource" and no problem --> but together, they might produce a hazard Jan 16, 2014 Readings: chapter 2- Earthquakes Let's imagine a particular geographic location with a fixed human population and infrastructure (buildings/roads/hospitals/police force/ambulance/ emergency crew) ie. Kingston • let's imagine that we experience a hazard "event" (ie. we go past the damage threshold) • a flood event happens what are the 3 main factors that control how severe the hazard event is? • 1) ABSOLUTE AMOUNT (intensity): ie. how much water is there o how much higher or lower than the hazard threshold • 2) DURATION OF TINE: how long do we stay in the hazard zone o the longer it lasts for, the more damage can occur • 3) RATE OF CHANGE: how rapidly the hazard zone is reached o if the hazard zone is reached in a very short amount of time, not enough time to adjust to the change and respond Hazard event: LOSSES AND GAINS • after a hazard event, there are both losses and gains o some people lose (property damage, financial loss, loss of power) o some people gain (gave more business to restaurants, people selling candles/flashlights/energy generators, tree cutting companies When does a HAZARD EVENT become a DISASTER? a CATASTROPHE? Why is the distinction important? What are the factors that decide that? • POPULATION: the number of people killed/ injured • AMOUNT OF PROPERTY LOSS • AREA AFFECTED (geographic scale) • GEOGRAPHIC AREA INFRASTRUCTURE AFFECTED: resources/industrial areas • RELIEF PREPAREDNESS • group verses individual • reconstruction time • societal reaction Why is the distinction important? 1. governmental/world aid 2. historical perspective - how often do really big events happen? TRUISM IN DISASTERS "the poor lose their lives while the rich lose their money" • 90% of the deaths are in the less industrialized countries • 75% of economic damage is in the more industrialized countries o IC have the wealth to build more stable buildings, but cost a lot more to rebuild it What type of hazard event is responsible, on average, for the MOST DEATHS? • CIVIL STRIFE (ie. wars, wars over resources/land) • drought • earthquakes/volcanoes • storms/floods • other (ie. epidemic) How big a problem is a particular hazard? • ie. how RISKY is it to be exposed to that hazard? • for a particular location • what is the RISK to humans from that hazard? o RISK: (the probability of the hazard occurring) x (the severity of the consequences if the hazard happens) o risk = P x S H H • ie. risk of bumping toe o pH= 1/2, SH= 1 so ri
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