New York: Facts On File. – 2002. – 320 p. The trouble is that the Earth is constantly changing, so trying to make forward projections regarding the resources available and our future demand for them becomes difficult. Some of the changes we see taking place around us are entirely natural, and perhaps unavoidable, but many others result from the consequences of human activities. If we are to understand the hopes and the hazards facing humankind, then we need to know more about the causes—and the consequences—of environmental change. Here the science of environmental geology comes to the rescue. To learn that our activities on the planet can actually have an impact on the great forces of nature has come as a great surprise to us. Only 50 years ago scientists would smile complacently at the idea that by burning fossil fuels, such as coal and oil, we could affect the proportion of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Surely, the great reservoirs of the globe, the atmosphere, the oceans, and the soils, could absorb any wastes that our single species could pour into them? The study of environmental geology might not yet be able to provide all of the answers to these problems, but at least it supplies us with a greater clarity of vision. The aim of this book is to provide that vision. The need for information and understanding becomes ever greater as we see the changes taking place around us. Change has always been with us, but at no time in history has the rate of change been so rapid. Facing the problems that confront us on our changing Earth requires informed minds and a new way of thinking. This book seeks to give us the information we need, but it will also stimulate imaginative thoughts and new ideas, which are needed if the coming generation is to meet the challenges and maintain the quality of our planet. Contents Tables Acknowledgments Foreword Introduction The balance of nature: the natural processes Environmental degradation: ecology and pollution Climate change: the greenhouse effect Hydrologic activity: Water flow and flooding Coastal processes: seacoasts and estuaries Tectonic hazards: earthquakes and volcanoes Losing ground: erosion and slides Desertification: deserts and droughts Natural resources: depletion of industrial materials Land use: the changing landscape Conclusion Glossary Bibliography Index
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