Photo by Ray Bilcliff

Geology studies the Earth and aims to address the underlying issues caused by progressive environmental development. 

By definition, geology is the study of the Earth, as well as its materials, structure, and the processes that shape it. It also involves studying the organisms that have lived on Earth. Geologists investigate the Earth’s history, nature, materials, and changes. They can specialize in various fields like environmental geology, economic geology, and more. Geologists play a crucial role in understanding the Earth and its workings.

“A Guide to Pennsylvanian (Carboniferous) Age Plant Fossils of Southwest Virginia” by Thomas F. McLoughlin

Thomas F. McLoughlin is a geologist, professor, and author passionate about geology and education. He started as a rock enthusiast in his childhood and became a geologist, coal miner instructor, mining consultant, and writer. McLoughlin wrote a book called “A Guide to Pennsylvanian (Carboniferous) Age Plant Fossils of Southwest Virginia,” a Book about Fossil Plants of Southwest Virginia, where he shares his discoveries of fossil plants and marine organisms.

In his book, McLoughlin provides a glimpse into his professional life as a geologist and introduces readers to the science of fossils and the art of collecting plant fossils. The book also features diverse fossils, predominantly plants, and a few marine organisms. With 57 plates and over 280 illustrations, many in color, readers can explore and appreciate these ancient remnants.

Global Issues That Geology Is Addressing

Geology addresses several global issues that are of significant importance to society. Like other scientific disciplines, geology helps us discover and expand our world knowledge. It tackles critical topics such as energy sources and sustainability, climate change, environmental impacts of human activities, water management, mineral resources, and natural hazards.

Energy Sources and Sustainability 

Energy sources and sustainability are vital concerns in geology. Primary sources include nuclear energy, fossil fuels like natural gas, oil, coal, and renewable sources like solar, wind, geothermal, and hydropower. Converting primary sources into electricity, a secondary energy source, allows it to be distributed to homes and businesses through power lines. The promotion of sustainable energy, like solar and wind power, is strongly advocated by environmentalists due to its abundance and inability to be depleted.

Climate Change

Climate change, another pressing issue, refers to long-term temperature shifts and weather patterns. While natural factors like changes in solar activity and volcanic eruptions can cause climate variations, industrialization since the 1800s has been the primary driver of climate change. Burning fossil fuels emits greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide and methane, which captures heat in the Earth’s atmosphere, leading to rising temperatures. Driving cars, using coal for heating, deforestation, agriculture, and oil and gas operations contribute to greenhouse gas emissions.

Mineral Resources

Mineral resources are minerals or rocks extracted from the Earth for use in our daily products. Brines, which are salty waters, are also mined for their contained elements. Specific characteristics define minerals, such as solid, inorganic, naturally occurring, chemically homogeneous, and crystalline. Natural gas, coal, and oil are energy resources obtained through mining but are considered separately due to their unique nature.

Water Management

Water management controls and moves water resources to minimize damage to life and property and maximize efficient, beneficial use. Efficient water management of dams and barriers reduces the risk of harm due to flooding. Irrigation water management systems make the most effective use of limited water supplies for agriculture.

Natural Hazards

Geology also addresses natural hazards, which are environmental events that can impact societies and the environment. These hazards should be distinguished from manufactured threats. Examples of natural hazards include avalanches, heat waves, coastal flooding, droughts, and earthquakes.

The Effect of Industrialization Towards the Environment

Human activities such as overpopulation, pollution, burning fossil fuels, and deforestation contribute to changes in the physical environment. These changes have triggered climate change, soil erosion, poor air quality, and the environment. Nowadays, one of the leading causes of climate change is pollution. Pollution is introducing harmful materials or chemicals to the environment called pollutants. Pollutants such as trash created by humans or factory runoff have been gradually damaging the environment and air, water, and land quality.

To prevent further environmental damage, geologists can educate people about the condition of their environment. The importance of studying the environment provides scientists, especially geologists, to prepare for the future of the Earth and evaluate the necessary changes. Not only can sustainable energy reduce the effects of global warming, but it is also cheaper, providing energy to remote and impoverished places worldwide.

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