Living in a dynamic earth Essay
Living in a dynamic earth
Evolving from ape-man society to the advanced civilization nowadays, people start to inhabit in artificial concrete jungle and live far away from the given natural environment. With social progression and economic benefits, peoples’ crave for natural resources keeps escalating from time to time. People have a great tendency to consume resources yet ignore the long-term behavioral consequences that are destined to cycle back eventually. The significance of sustainability is mostly overlooked. The book ‘Human Science and Human History 101’ considers the planet and human as a whole system and tells the story in an informational scientific way.
The book contains four main topics. Firstly introduce the formation history of the Earth and facts about different parts and components of the Earth to provide readers a solid concept and basis of the planet. Afterwards, it gradually explores the fact that human generation development and evolution are greatly determined by the changes on the Earth, for instance, the uncontrollable natural catastrophe-volcano eruption. Hence it evaluates the resulting impacts and relationships between human development and the Earth as a circulating ecosystem.
The first chapter starts with the exploration of the history and facts of atmosphere, oceans and rivers. An introduction of the atmosphere composition and certain scenarios of greenhouse effect and ozone depletion spark off the chapter. The sun gives life to the Earth. It provides a primary energy source to the Earth. Solar energy of the sun breeds and sustains the living things. Temperature on the Earth simply controls climates and determines changes on the living environment and consequently triggers alterations in human behaviors, which creates human history through centuries. This chapter specifically links the variation of solar radiation to the changes on surface of the Earth and history of mankind. The aforementioned changes in solar radiation are explained by long-term cycles. (Chapter 1, P.5) With obtaining the trapped gas of carbon dioxide in ice to determine the information about the changes in atmospheric temperature, in which a 100,000 years of slow cooling in glacial periods and 20,000 years of rapid warming in interglacial periods can be investigated.
Climate changes create different periods and with the start and end of different periods generate distant consequences hence affect and shift living of human. From the long history of 1,5000 years ago, increasing temperature leaded to the melting of water and terminated the last Ice Age. With the end of last Ice Age, three main consequences – topographic effects of deglaciation, peopling effect of the Americas and the possibility of the occurrence of biblical flood in the Black Sea occur. (Chapter 1, P.15) These three effects further mold the surface of the Earth with the junctions of rivers, separation of the Earth continents and expansion of sea area. Firstly, ‘topographic effects of deglaciation’ discusses the physical evidence of glaciation on land and rapid sea level rise. The melting of ice uncovered the land and exposed much of the topography of North America and northern Europe. Secondly, ‘peopling of the Americas’ confers the idea of very different evolution patterns between South and North Americas using examples of primates, hominins and Homo sapiens. The circumstance was leaded by the isolation of North America by the opening of the Atlantic and Arctic Oceans.
Thirdly, ‘Flooding of the Black Sea’ tells that the Black sea was once isolated, and by connecting the Black Sea with other world’s ocean by melting ice, the busiest waterway in the world that affects people’s transportation routes and preferences is created. Then from the shorter history of past 2000 years, the time is divided into five periods with obvious evidence of the influence of climates to human behavior and history. (Chapter 1, P.17) For example, in the Little Ice Age, a decrease in food production and rise in food prices due to a cold climate spurred the emigration of people and eventually the high food process leaded the French Revolution. It is evident that although it seems irrelevant, when viewing the human history and climates together, we can find huge and direct relationship that can by no means be overlooked.
Climate changes human behaviors and builds history. After explaining the linkage between climate and human activities, global warming is discussed as a non-stop phenomenon that keeps influencing us. After showing evidence of global warming, it is, however, stated that the rapid increases of the amount of greenhouse gases is mainly caused by human activity and social progression. For instance, in the 1700s, the industrial revolution started up the human economic production fuelled by coal; after that, the development of car (an industrial production) speeded up the utilization of oil especially in developed countries. Volcanoes, oceans and rivers activities and influences are explored to end the chapter. (Chapter 1, P.25) This chapter provides history of the Earth and human, which explains the rational behind climates and human activities and further notice us the possibility of influences to us in the future.
After the comprehensive explanation of the relationship of solar radiation to the atmospheric elements, formation of the Earth surface and eventually links to human development, chapter two proceeds to description of the solid tectonic parts and its tectonic processes, then explores its influence and relationship to human kind. ‘Tectonics’ is the deformation of the earth’s surface. In the beginning chapter two provides basic information of the structure and composition of the Earth and the principle of ‘Isostasy’. (Chapter 2, P.53) From the center of the Earth, it consisted of a core, a mantle and a crust. With the heat constantly generates from the interior of the Earth, the crust is at the same time in motion. These affects the crust which is the surface of the Earth where human habitat and creates a series of tectonic processes that we human being considered as catastrophes. ‘Isostasy’ is then referred to the concept that all elevation son the Earth are determined and controlled by the thickness and density of the underlying crust and known as ‘Equal standing’.
Following is the discussion of the Plate tectonics, which foremost explains the heat generates from the Earth by radioactive decay and this source is strong enough to prevent shrinking and to drive tectonic processes. The chapter further remarks on the structures and processes of the movement of rocks using the concepts of continental drift, hot spot, and plates. (Chapter 2, P.61) After all the fundamental information then comes to the influences of tectonic processes include Volcanism, Earthquakes, Tsunamis, Living in rifts and Living on small islands. The above five processes are discussed from its formation reasons to its impacts on humans habitat and explains with examples of the according changes in mankind behaviors and history. Firstly, in volcanoes eruption, molten rocks known as ‘magma’ is introduced and categorized into ‘intrusive rock’ and ‘extrusive rocks’. (Chapter 2, P.67) Three historically important eruptions are described. The violent explosion of Santorini in 1640 B.C. which has a great possibility of leading to the remarkable replacement of Minoan civilization by the Mycenaeans.
The other two are explosion of glowing cloud, one is from the Mount Vesuvius and the other is the Mount Pelee. In the later eruption, a glowing cloud around 500 meters high crashed in St.Pierre which burned and covered the whole town and killed approximately 25,000 people. Secondly, earthquakes occur when faults slip in a sudden. The highest magnitude of earthquake that is ever measured is 9.5 in Chile on 22th of May in 1960. Possible influences of earthquakes are discussed by examples at Mayan Quirigua, Israeli site of Armagedon and San Francisco. Earthquakes can be as severe as to destruct all of the existing civilization in Maya empire. However, human can also learn from time to time to protect ourselves by obtaining knowledge of building in earthquake-prone areas. (Chapter 2, P.73) Thirdly, tsunami is a gigantic system of waves in ocean basins that is resulted from sudden displacement of ocean surfaces.
Mostly, tsunami is a consequence of underwater earthquakes and the examples of Indian Ocean and La Palma are then illustrated. In the significant tsunami of Indian Ocean, more than 200,000 deaths were caused directly and long-term social facilities and industries destructions, for instances, buildings, roads and tourism industry, were created. Fourthly, people living in rifts because those low valleys contain a great amount of resources in terms of water, food and fertile soils for living. Examples of East African rift system and Hawaii are mentioned to further illustrate the abundant resources in rift valleys. (Chapter 2, P.83) Last, the chapter ends with describing people living on thousands of small islands like Hawaii and Midway which are almost isolated from the rest of the world geographically but play significant role of intermediate stops of air route.
With the basis of the atmospheric element and tectonic planet surface mentioned in the first two chapters, chapter three continues with the introduction of the origin of human and continents. The controversy of emergence of human kind from creationism or evolution is evaluated and the origin of existing continents is discussed with evidence. Generally, creationism represents the belief that creatures are created by Genesis 1 in the 6-day period when God made the Earth. Creationists think the concept of evolution can be compatible with creations in the biblical stories. Every living thing in the world are made by God separately and every word in the Bible is undoubtedly true. (Chapter 3, P.90) While theory of evolution tells the existing creatures are evolved from ancient living things in the process of natural selection. Evolutionist rejects supreme beings and thinks that living objects in the universe all undergoes physical processes of changing. French anatomist George Cuvier proposed the idea that the Earth had undergone several times of huge extinction and recreation of new organisms throughout times.
If the existing organisms are capable of adapting to their environment, it survives; if it does not, it simply varies or perishes. With the continuous variation of creatures to adapt to the environment and prevent from dying produces the form of existing creatures nowadays. The controversy of creationism and evolution continued seriously through the 20th century. The trial of John Scopes in Dayton in 1925 is mentioned to show the deep-rooted conflicts. (Chapter 3, P.94) The sequence of events that influenced the Earth is also discussed with the method of ‘law of superposition’ to distinguish the age of substances.
Such method can to certain extent prove the history of supercontinents. Continents preserve long history of the Earth and the discussion of continents is separated into two parts of continents formation and history of supercontinents. Two of the supercontinents are Gondwana and Pangea. Finding similar fossil in different countries or areas proved they might once be a whole complete landmass. (Chapter 3, P.111) Concerning Gondwana as an example, similar fossils are found in Australia, India, South Africa and South America. Also, glaciation evidence is found in the above areas to show its unity in the past.
Finishing all the discussion of the formation and development of the Earth and human kind, the last chapter reveals the relationship between the Earth resources, human needs, behaviors and the environment influences and sustainability. ‘Sustainability’ means human’s patterns of living and working which are able to continue for the foreseeable future of humankind and, not causing series destruction or damage to any member or component in the ecosystem. (Chapter 4, P.120) This chapter breaks up the energy resources consumption and environmental consequences into five aspects of introduction to energy resources, mineral and rock resources, food resources, fresh water resources and wireless communication and the Internet. In the category of energy resources, information about world energy information is first given. It is shown that energy consumption of United States is increasing from year to year.
Also, the United State that possesses 5 percent of worlds population, consumes 25 percent of world energy production. While poor countries only consume low rate of energy. An unbalance energy use is to a large extent shown. (Chapter 4, P.123) Then energy resources formation, production and consumption and history of use of different resources are described regarding fossil fuel, nuclear energy, renewable resources and rock and mineral resources. To the aspect of food resources, nutritional requirements are discussed with a comparison and contrast of the calories consumption of industrialized countries and poor countries. Origin and characteristics of different sources of food for example Beans, wheat and fruit are mentioned afterwards. (Chapter 4, P.150) Thomas Robert Malthus produced an essay in 1798 introducing the tendency of population increasing exponentially which presented the scenario that world population kept escalating.
Yet, while population increases the world is still not capable of feeding everybody although there are plenty of food. Food distribution is not even. This situation supports the doctrine of ‘survival of the fittest’, similar to the idea of natural selection in extinction and evolution. (Chapter 4, P.154) A development of silk road and distant modern communication internet and methods are then mentioned. From the further transportation of horse riding to steam engines, from land transport to ocean transport, there was a great advance in human society connection. Also with the invention and breakthrough of communication gadgets time to time, from electricity generators to telephone and to radio, information can be disseminate much easier. (Chapter 4, P.157) It is, however, worth to meditate that how those technology can be correctly used to benefit human beings.
To sum up, by providing scientific information and evidence of the formation and changes of the Earth and human kind, this book tells the story between the Earth and people. While human civilization proceeds and enters the era of rapid economic activities, energy consumption keeps escalating for the productivity and need of human. It is, yet, remarkable that all of the energy sources create certain amount of problems to the Earth and environment. As a closed ecosystem, addressing sustainability is of utmost significant to human beings future life. At the end gives audience the message of its correlationship in order to highlight the importance of obtaining sustainability to human and our habitat, the Earth.
Rogers, J. W. & Tucker, T. (2008). _Earth Science and Human History
101._United States of America: Greenwood Press.