36 questions – environmental science

1.  Do you think the Earth is a living organism? Why or why not?

2.  Why are people in Haiti so vulnerable to major natural hazards?

3.  Why did you take this environmental geology course?

4.  Would an exponential negative growth of human population be a solution to many environmental problems?

5.  Are there any conflicts between global environmental unity principle and regional economic development?

6.  a.  Look around your house or apartment and make a list of five different materials that relate to geology. For example, do you have a granite countertop? Slate floor or pool table? Salt in your kitchen? Drywall (made from gypsum)? Metal Objects? Plastic items (made from petroleum)? 

b.  Indicate those items that can be recycled.

c.  If you currently do not recycle, describe what would cause you

7.  Assume the Pangaea never broke up, how might today’s environments be different?

8.  What are the major differences in plate tectonic settings between the U.S. eastern and western coasts?

9.  Will the tectonic cycle ever stop? Why or why not?

10.  Why is most seismic and volcanic energy released along the Pacific rim?

11.  Does plate tectonics play a role in shaping your local environment?

12.  Extremophile bacteria can live and thrive under extreme conditions. Why are they important to the search for extraterrestrial life?

13.  Discuss different ways that rocks and minerals are used to benefit or to harm the environment

14.  What rock property and rock structure factors should you consider for a major engineering site selection?

  1. Suppose you are the superintendent of schools, what steps would you take to determine if there was an asbestos hazard, and how would you communicate with parents?
  2. What factors contributed to the failure of the St. Francis Dam?

17.  A town is located in the foothills of a mountain range. The rock types in the city limits and just beyond include basalt, shale, and limestone. As the town grows and expands, what advice could you give planners as to potential geologic problems related to the rocks to be aware of as new buildings and roads are sited? What additional geologic information would be necessary?

18.  The rock cycle indicates how rocks can be transformed from one type to another. In other words, older rocks are recycled into new rocks. How can an older sedimentary rock be transformed into a new sedimentary rock without first becoming a metamorphic rock?

19.  An ecosystem consists of both living community and its nonliving environment. Is one of two components more important?

20.  Based upon the linkage between ecology and geology, what is the importance of interdisciplinary collaborations in ecological restoration?

21.  What are the critical ecological challenges in your area?

22.  Are there any positive impacts of land transformation on your local ecosystems?

23.  How do seawalls reduce biodiversity?

24.  What did you learn from the case history of wolves in Yellowstone National Park?

25.  List all the natural hazardous processes in the area where you live. What is done? What is more to be done?

26.  Construct a U.S. vulnerability map of natural hazards by state. (Hint: create a legend with different colors representing different hazards, and then color in the state with the most common hazard it experiences. You’ll probably have to do some internet research to find the data for this one.)

Diagram, map  Description automatically generated

27.  What is the difference between forecasting and warning?

28.  Can humans eventually control the impact risks of natural hazards? Explain your rationale.

29.  Develop a plan for your community to evaluate the risk of flooding. How would you go about determining an acceptable risk?

30.  Do you agree or disagree that land use change in population increase are increasing the risk from natural processes? Develop a hypothesis and discuss how it might be tested.

31.  What is the main lesson from the recent earthquakes in Italy and Haiti? How important is the wealth of a country to reducing the earthquake hazard?

32.  From your point of view, what can an individual citizen do to minimize the earthquake impact risks?

33.  What would be your approach to present info on earthquake hazard to people who knew very little about earthquake?

34.  Propose geologic scenarios that may change the global earthquake distribution patterns.

35.  You live in an area that has a significant earthquake hazard. There is ongoing debate as to whether an earthquake warning system should be developed. Some people are worried that false alarms will cause a lot of problems, and others point out that the response time may not be very long.

a.  What are your views? Do you think it is a responsibility of public officials to finance an earthquake warning system, assuming such systems are feasible?

b.  What are potential implications if a warning system is not developed, and a large earthquake results in damage that could have been partially avoided with a warning system in place?

36.  Look up your birthday in “Today in Earthquake History” (https://earthquake.usgs.gov/learn/today/) and see what you find! Investigate the tectonic setting of any significant earthquake listed.

37.  What is the role of human population increase in impacting the Indonesian tsunami of 2004?

38.  Why do you think that prior to the 2004 Indonesian tsunami there was no warning system in the Indian Ocean? Was this a function of science or values?

39.  What is the probability of your community being impacted by tsunami?

40.  Do you think that there is any strong link between sustainability and a tsunami?

41.  Why might it be difficult for people who live far from a serious earthquake hazard to appreciate and prepare for tsunami damage?

42.  You are charged with developing an education program with the objective of raising a community’s understanding of tsunami. What sort of program would you develop, and what would it be based upon?

43.  What are the possible reasons why people live near a volcano?

44.  Is your area vulnerable to the impact risks of volcanic activities?

45.  How do political and economic factors influence people’s attitude toward the volcanic hazard? 

46.  How to develop a public relations program that could alert people to a potential volcanic hazard?

47.  While looking through some old boxes in your grandparents’ home, you find a sample of volcanic rock collected by your great-grandfather. No one knows where it was collected. You take it to school, and your geology professor says it is a sample of andesite. 

a.  What might you tell your grandparents about the type of volcano from which it probably came?

b.  What is the geologic environment the rock came from?

c.  What type of volcanic activity produced it?

48.  With respect to lava flow hazards, why are basaltic magmas able to threaten developed areas much farther away from a volcano compared to andesitic magmas?

49.  As a planner, outline a plan of action working for a community that is expanding into the headwater portions of drainage basins. 

50.  Does the community you live in have a flood hazard? If not, why not? If there is a hazard, what has been done and/or is being done to reduce or eliminate the hazard? What more could be done?

51.  What are the largest floods to have ever occurred in your area?

52.  With the global warming, what do you think the frequency and magnitude of flooding would change?

53.  Differentiate between competency and capacity. Does a stream’s competency and capacity change over time?

54.  Humans construct artificial levees to reduce flooding. How then can these levees increase the frequency and severity of flooding?

55.  Discuss the reasons why our society could not prevent slope development.

56.  Assume you have been hired by a community to make the citizens more aware of the landslide hazard in very steep topographic area. Outline a plan of action and defend it.

57.  Compare and contrast landslide hazards and impact risks in the east coast versus west coast, tropical versus polar regions.

58.  Increased water content is one of the more common mass wasting/landslide triggers. Why does the actual landslide event sometimes take place as much as a month or more after a period of heavy rain?

59.  a.  Why is wet beach sand able to form steeper slopes than dry sand?

b.  How is this consistent with the fact that excess water can cause a slope to become unstable?

60.  What is the role of ground water in the formation of sink holes?

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