There is an agreement that a significant number of man-made interferences contribute to the degradation and loss of resources, which will gravely affect future generations. Moreover, human intervention not only affects mans accessibility to resources, but also other life-forms and ecosystems, and sometimes, human actions harm humans themselves. As such, there is a conscious effort to respond to these by finding solutions to the problems that resulted as an effect of humans intrusion to the nature. All these are aspects of geology, a science that has contributed greatly in our present understanding of the Earth.
Geology is an earth science that literally refers to the study of the Earth (Tarbuck and Lutgens). Geology may be involved with the study of the Earths origin (historical geology) or it may be involved with understanding the natural properties, components and processes of the Earth (physical geology). Although we may not immediately identify it as such, geology has many applications in the modern way of life. This paper will focus on physical geology, and how this branch of geology is applied in current events, the focus area being the industry.
Industries are involved in sourcing out resources or the manufacturing of goods, which are conveniently supplied to us for use day to day. Its rise was brought about by an increase in technological developments which allowed goods to be produced in large numbers and distributed quickly, leading to minimal costs. Examples of these developments are the construction of factories and the application of computers to control certain processes and lead to efficient production of goods. Although industries are significant factors of the economy, geology is also evident in industries.
Instances of geology in the industry are covered by several geological groups: economic, exploration and environmental geology. Economic geology is the study of earths resources, especially those materials that can be used for profitable or industrial purposes. It is commonly associated with mineral resources, however, it may also include metals, rocks, water, fuel or other substances that can be exploited, utilized or developed into something of value to society (Center for Mineral Resources).
Exploration geology involves the search of these resources, with an emphasis on the search of new materials that have the potential to be of use to society. Environmental geology encompasses the role of humans in the earth system through the knowledge of relationship of man with the physical environment. Environmental geology involves finding ways of managing the Earths resources, alleviating mans exposure to natural hazards and pollution, and managing waste disposal.
These are covered by environmental geology in the knowledge that the environment is both a resource and a hazard and man has caused some of these hazards (Howari). As such, man is also acting on the consequences of these implications to protect the Earth for the safety and continued survival of all its inhabitants. The industry is involved in all these aspects of geology. Specifically, aspects of geology are exhibited in the industry through the acquisition of resources, the search of new and potentially renewable resources, and through the environmental implications these industries have.
The growth and development of society has brought about an increase in the demand of resources. The birth of industries has led to a developed and urbanized environment. According to Dr. Howari, the urban environment is similar to a machine: utilizing inputs that come from the natural environment to produce outputs which are used by people in the society. Dr. Howard also enumerates four major resources that the natural environment is able to provide for utilization. Further, the corresponding outputs obtained from these sources are also stated.
Humans have been preoccupied in taking advantage of the physical resources of the earth and in changing the earth for obtaining materials and promoting agriculture, habitation and business: factors of development. Industries play a role in providing these resources and exploration geology is highlighted in this instance. The major resources being acquired and considered as inputs include water (taken either directly or through reservoirs or dams), food, raw materials such as metals and minerals for construction, infrastructure or ornamental purposes, and last but not the least, energy, through resources such as coal, oil, gas and uranium.
From these resources, the industries are able to generate numerous products for consumption or trade. However, in the same manner, the industries also give out waste, since materials are not exhaustively used. When waste management is poorly developed, the natural systems of the earth are unable to reallocate and redistribute the unused materials, and pollution is another output brought about by industries. From this it can be seen the industry provides a means of obtaining resources and making them available to humans.
A lot of the things that people make use of are from these different industries, and these industries are able to produce these commodities from resources through knowledge of the earth and the resources that are being acquired from it. Some people are oriented towards developing industries that are focused on finding resources other than the ones being used in the present. In other words, there is more emphasis in finding ways to utilize or obtain something out of what was initially thought to be useless. This is best seen in the pursuit of renewable or alternative resources.
An example of this is the pursuit for other sites or other sources of energy. Geological studies have shown that organic materials near shores and in shallow seas are potential sources of oil and natural gas and this knowledge has allowed oil and natural gas fields to be mapped out and hopefully used for consumption (What is Geology) . An article from the Times has reported that in London, there are plans to build a deep-sea tidal energy farm, which will aim to provide electricity for five thousand homes through underwater tidal energy turbines.
Tidal energy is an advantage over wind energy, because the weather is not a factor in the supply of energy. As such, tidal energy supply is definite and expected (Smith). The potential of tidal energy is becoming more and more appreciated, especially since oil prices are increasing and the burning of fossil fuels contribute to the effects of global warming. Another source of energy is through geothermal means. Volcanic islands as sources of electricity are being studied by a team of experts led by a former scientist associate with the U. S. Geological Survey.
If this is successful, geothermal plants can be constructed and this can be a low-cost source of energy compared to the diesel generated counterparts (Casas). If successful, new and more industries that focus on these goals will be created. Exploration geology and environmental geology are highlighted in this instance, as people are looking for other sources, to help in the lessening of the dangers of the current industrial outputs to the environment which will be discussed in the next paragraphs. As earlier mentioned, industries have inputs and produce outputs.
However, some of these outputs have hazardous implications, specifically due to the pollution that wastes contribute to the environment. This can lead to negative effects to society as well. Industrial wastes or accidents reach and affect other ecosystems, killing other kinds of organisms and destroying their homes. This imbalance will also affect humans, as the Earth is an integrated system, where the changes in one element affect the entirety. Oil spills threaten the survival of organisms residing in the coastline and in the seas.
Effects of events such as this have long term effects not only on the environment, but also on its inhabitants. Oil affects the regulation of body temperature of birds. It also interferes with the migration and spawning of fish species, in turn leaving people without any fish to catch and consume. The heightened concern on global warming involves environmental geology. Resources such as coal, which are acquired by industries, contribute to the carbon dioxide emission that contributes to global warming (Technology).
In other cases, the expansion of industries affects other industries. It was reported in an article that local tourism will be affected once a portion of that area will be turned into a mining site (Rogers). Hiking trails will be disrupted and dust and noise will modify the natural environment. However, there are also studies that aim to find positive insights in these situations. An investigation on how coal, through new methods of gasification, gas capture and separation, can lessen and not worsen the carbon emission is being worked on (Technology).
The Earth may be just a speck in the expansive universe, but it is capable of supplying more than enough for the survival and maintenance of life forms, be it plants, animals or human beings. The industry is a means by which people are supplied with these resources. The industry makes use of collecting inputs and producing outputs, some of which are good and others are bad. These events caused by industries affect our everyday life and can be explained and resolved through the knowledge, comprehension and awareness of what is happening to our planet.
Knowledge and appreciation of geology can be applied to the industry through its exploration, economic and environmental aspects. Through this, one can understand how industries affect not only people, but other life forms and environments. The positive as well as negative contributions of industries are clear, and because of that, measures can be taken to solve the problems encountered. By knowing and understanding geology and showing instances of geology in the industry, its application and importance in industries is recognized, especially for a science that plays a role in the development and future of the modern way of life.
Works Cited Casas, Gemma Q. Ex-USGS scientist leads team of experts developing geothermal energy in NMI. 20 November 2007. Marianas Variety. 27 November 2007
27 November 2007