Monday, 20 June 2011

Key Themes: Overview

You can now read the whole series of 'Key Themes' post here. The 'Key Themes' posts are a series of short articles outlining the role that geoscientists have in sustainable international development and reducing poverty.

Geologists play a crucial role in the discovery, access and sustainable management of clean water supplies through the study and application of hydrogeology. Access to clean water, and safe sanitation, brings improvements to health, education, earning potential and many other factors.

Food security is a huge and emerging problem facing global development. Huge numbers of people are already undernourished, and world populations are expected to rise significantly over the next 40 years. Sustainable agriculture is fundamental to global development. Agrogeology is the application of geology to agricultural practice, examining how soil nutrients, pH and soil structure can be improved using naturally occurring, mineral-rich rock materials

Geologists have a crucial role in studying and analysing the causes, mechanisms and impacts of geohazards. Geologists use their field skills to examine areas, which are prone to earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, landslides, subsidence etc. Their knowledge can be used to generate hazard maps, inform the insurance industry, and help communities adapt to reduce the impact of the hazard.

Geologists play a significant role in modelling the impacts of future climatic conditions and impacts through their research into palaeoclimate. Geologists also have a role in both understanding how climate changes will impact on several key areas, and what can be done to adapt/mitigate/reduce the impacts within these areas - areas such as coastal erosion, flooding, groundwater and geohazards.

Natural resources include things such as precious metals, rare earth metals, base metals, industrial minerals, gemstones, fossil fuels (coal, oil and gas) and construction materials (aggregate, sand, clay, limestone). Geologists have a crucial role in locating, extracting, processing and protecting the natural resources that our economies and lifestyles are reliant on.
Physical infrastructure includes those things needed for society or enterprise to grow and flourish, and the economy to grow. It includes transport networks such as roads, airports and dockyards; energy networks such as power grids; telecommunications networks; solid waste management and water  management. Geologists are involved in investigating the ground conditions, identifying hazards and determining routes and locations to ensure effective and safe design.