Revenge of the Environment
By Kate Carpenter, Technical Services Representative
In time of intense hurricanes and killer earthquakes, we are searching for the answers as to why these supposedly natural disasters are occurring. Human impact on the environment is hotly debated to be directly responsible for the destruction.
It has been proven in several cases that physical changes to the landscape have been responsible for creating earthquakes. Coal mining can create stress and change the tectonic force creating quakes such as the one in Newcastle in New South Wales on December 28, 1989. Also, the building of dams creating what is known as “hydrofracturing” where the change in the weight of the water stresses the unstable faults and fractures of the ground underneath. The deadly earthquake in China’s Sichuan Province in 2009 is attributed to Zipingpu Reservoir, a four-year-old reservoir built close to the earthquake’s geological fault line.
Changing the landscape near rivers, taking away the vegetation and natural occurring structures that absorb the land and replacing them with building and flat roads can lead to flooding. In addition to this, we often build large communities in the flood plains which can lead to large human loss of life and material.
There was a recent study that suggested global warming caused by human influences is directly responsible for the warming of the oceans (over 1 degree over the past century) which in turns fuels the intensity of hurricanes. This could be linked back to the deforestation and greenhouse gases. While it is not as widely accepted as the previous theories, all of these so called natural disasters should be a wakeup call to us to care for the world we live in and be more conscientious about our effect. We need to respect the power nature holds and not tempt fate by building dams on fault lines or constructing cities in flood plains. Furthermore, following the green movement such as biking or carpooling when possible, using reusable grocery bags, printing double sided and taking tossing cans in the recycle bin instead of the trash may appear insignificant but can slowly add up to counter effect the negative impact our lives have thus caused. What else can you do to help?