Division of Environmental Geosciences:
Challenges, Choices Await Geologists
Lee C. Gerhard listed major challenges facing geologists – and society – at the Division of Environmental Geosciences luncheon. They included:
- Providing minerals for 10 billion people by 2100.
- Providing healthy drinking water for today’s population, much less 10 billion people by 2100.
- Feeding 10 billion people by 2100.
- Providing sufficient energy to 10 billion people by 2100.
- Avoiding invasive species and homogenization of the global biota, loss of biodiversity.
Maintaining integrity of science in the face of human hubris.
To meet these challenges, there also are realities that:
- For every action, someone wins, someone else pays.
- Accounts must balance. Gains must exceed costs.
- Unintended consequences are a usual result.
Thus, Gerhard said, hard choices are to be made and priorities must be set rationally with priorities on the health and safety of humankind at the top of the value scale, with natural system perturbations, social interest and aesthetics and recreation following.
He also noted that the priorities sometimes have gotten scrambled as self interests trumps rationality.