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GEOL 106 Study Guide - Final Guide: President Of The United States, Inta

Geological Sciences and Geological Engineering
Course Code
GEOL 106
John Hages
Study Guide

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1. The world changes as we see it in new ways; the way we see it depends on how we use it.
2. View of Earth from space led to increased awareness of the fragility of Earth.
3. Environmental laws have increased dramatically since we went to the moon.
4. In 1989, POTUS commissioned a study of Earth System how to live with fragile Earth?
The Earth System (Science)
1. Earth System (interacting subsystems). A new approach of study is called Earth System Science.
2. A change in one component (subsystem) can propagate through the entire system.
3. We need to know what happened/happens on all scales (microscopic/space; seconds/years).
From “Solid–Earth Sciences and Society”, published in 1993
1. Goal: to understand the past, present, and future behaviour of the whole earth system.
2. Challenge: to maintain an environment in which the biosphere and humankind can flourish.
3. Objective: understand the processes involved in the global earth system (science).
Earth System Engineering / Management (for the use and convenience of people)
1. Mitigate geological hazards (how to minimize the effects of natural disasters).
2. Sustain sufficient supplies of natural resources.
Sources (energy and materials) and sinks (where we dump our wastes).
Solar energy planetary sources use by humans planetary sinks heat loss.
Where and what are the future supplies of these resources (eg, oil)?
What is the environmental impact of extracting and using these sources/sinks?
3. Minimize and adjust to the effects of global and environmental change.
Natural and anthropogenic (humangenerated) effects.
Global (climate change), regional (Aral Sea), and local effects (water contamination).
The Aral Sea
In the 1960s, water was extracted from the Darya rivers to grow cotton.
This resulted in the shrinkage of the Aral Sea over the years.
This destroyed the fishing industry and shortened the season for cotton.
Study the past to test if humans have been engineering/managing Earth for a long time (Allenby).
1. Study and count tree rings: wide rings (rainfall); narrow rings (drought); scars (forest fires).
2. Drill into & count ice cores from ice sheets in Greenland/Antarctica (eg, study lead contamination).
Annual snow layers trap dust. One year = dark layer (winter) + light layer (summer).
Measurable amounts of lead contamination were found from lead smelting by the Romans.
How about earlier human impact (eg, fire and agriculture 10,000 years ago)?
The Earth is increasingly a product of human engineering/management (Allenby). How big is our influence?
1. We can see the increase by observation (eg, qualitatively) or by numbers (eg, quantitatively).
2. Population, agriculture, use of resources, and generation of waste have grown dramatically since the
Industrial Revolution.
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