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Geoscience @ Daukas.com

Geoscience (Earth Science) and other topics related to where we live...

Geoscience includes all the sciences (geology, geophysics, geochemistry) that study the structure, evolution and dynamics of the planet Earth and its natural mineral and energy resources. Geoscience investigates the processes that have shaped the Earth through its 4600 million year history and uses the rock record to unravel that history - it is concerned with the real world beyond the laboratory and has direct relevance to the needs of society.

Modern geoscience is founded on plate tectonic theory which states that the outer part of the Earth (the lithosphere) is composed of a series of interlocking plates in relative motion. All geological processes such as mountain building, earthquake and volcanic activity are directly or indirectly related to the motions of the plates.

To this traditional scheme, I have added additional areas of interest that are closely related to, or are a sub topic of, Geoscience, such as environmental science, meteorology and climatology, physical geography, and some astronomy.

Why Is Understanding Our Planet Important?

Geocience is an amazingly interesting area of study, but even more interesting are the daily applications of this Science that could (and should) be put to good use by the average citizen and the governments they create.

Resource utilization, an one example, if informed by Geoscience, would be very different from that of today as would home construction, the location of cities, transportation systems, and so on.  As a species, we were once better informed about the world in which we live simply because we were not removed from the environment (via technology) as we are today.  The best example is that of the Justinian Code (6th Century Rome) that made it unlawful to build a structure, or plant a tree, that would block the sun from any nearby structure.

Beyond these obvious observations, an appreciation of the true economic foundations of our modern society would become clear if we put aside the usual short-term decision making processes that form the foundation of American culture and faced the reality of objective observation.

What do I mean by this?  Simply stated, the economic strength and well being of a nation state is directly related to the goods and services that can be derived from the place where it exists or exerts control over, either militarily or politically.  The branches of Geocience that concern itself with this issue have demonstrated time and time again that "ecosystem capital" can be measured and shown to correlate with, and indeed predict, the relative strengths of various economic regions and industries.  When ecocapital runs low or disappears, so too do the industries and cultures that rely upon them.

We are now entering into a time when the average citizen, and the governments they have put into power,will come to realize how a shrinking supply of ecosystem capital will prove that the experts were right all along.  (Keep in mind that not a single Earth Scientist  was surprised by Hurricane Katrina as demonstrated by the years of warnings that preceded the event.)  We are also about to realize that there is very little these same experts can do to "fix" the problems we are facing because only a population can decide to change itself.  Yes, governments are needed to draft and legislate policy, but populations create government and populations, therefore, are ultimately responsible for their own policies.

So, then, why do we find ourselves where we are today?  Because most populations have created governments to carry out their respective wills (strong economic systems, cheap energy, unlimited and unrestricted travel, large vehicles, large houses, et al., in the US) that serve the short-term.  These same populations did not create governments to create policies of sustainability.  Western cultures and the governments they create do not think about consequences, do not remember lessons learned, nor do they anticipate problems.  We concentrate on the next purchase, the next vacation, and the next promotion along with all the material evidence of being successful - of winning the competition.

What is about to be endured by the average citizen today as a consequence of their creating the government they deserve?  I think the best place to start is with a story or two of cultures, economies and governments, both past and present, that have or are experiencing first-hand the effects of environmental stressors, declining ecosystem capital, and is some cases, societal collapse.  These are not just stories taken from Internet email or social gatherings repeated here to make a point.  Instead, the stories and case studies found here are historical accounts based on well documented events and supported by sound science.

A good place to start, perhaps to entice you to learn more about the place we live, is to follow the links to your left.  These links will help you to learn about the weather, geology, global warming, the universe, the United States' relationship to energy, why the story of Easter Island is well worth learning, or other stories that I hope will lend a new perspective of how things work here on Earth.  The links in the navigation area to your left will take you to various pages that represent my attempt to provide an overview of the earth science topics I find compelling and that, taken together, provide a solid overview of this field of scientific inquiry.

-- Stephen C. Daukas, September, 2005

About Geoscience @ Daukas.com

Why Bother?

This section of Daukas.com represents a collection of materials I have created over the years for courses I've taught, research conducted for my graduate studies, seminars I've given, etc.

I was inspired to create a resource that would be useful to those who live in the central MA area, but would also be useful and educational in its own right for my students and others interested in studying the Earth.

I hope you find this site of value.