Taxonomy term


Geomedia: Books: Earth faces challenges, but are they tipping points?

The 2016 book, “Tipping Point for Planet Earth,” by paleoecologists Anthony D. Barnosky and Elizabeth A. Hadly, is a serious book on a serious topic, and a well-written, one-stop resource for anyone who wants to understand a host of looming problems. The book focuses on the alarming number of worrisome planetary trends now underway, mainly as a result of the convergence of population growth and human-induced global warming. Chapters cover people (population growth), “stuff” (increased purchases of material goods), storms, hunger, thirst (failing water supplies, clean or not), toxins, disease and war. These trends have merited serious attention from environmental scientists and deserve the same from politicians. Whether they are tipping points, however, is a point of contention.

27 Jul 2017

Life-saving diplomacy: The Volcano Disaster Assistance Program at thirty

The Volcano Disaster Assistance Program is the world’s only rapid-response team of volcanologists that works around the world to prevent eruptions from becoming disasters. The program has been deploying people and equipment to volcanic crises for three decades. |

18 Dec 2016

Comment: Building sanctuaries to increase civilization's resilience

Asteroid impacts, supervolcano eruptions, global pandemics, nuclear war and cyberterrorism: Each could cripple or destroy the foundations of civilization. Perhaps humanity should invest in its future by building archival sanctuaries to safeguard civilization in the event of catastrophe.

17 Sep 2014

Gauging nuclear disasters

A nuclear accident is defined by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) as an incident in which people died or property damage topped $50,000. In 1990, IAEA introduced the International Nuclear and Radiological Event Scale (INES) to rate and rank nuclear accidents. INES is a logarithmic scale that consists of seven levels: 0 (Deviation, no safety significance), 1 (Anomaly), 2 (Incident), 3 (Serious incident), 4 (Accident with local consequences), 5 (Accident with wider consequences), 6 (Serious accident) and 7 (Major accident).

31 May 2011

The trailblazers

Volcanologists have long been assessing the impacts of volcanic ash and gases on the environment and human health. This effort began in earnest when volcanologists at the U.S. Geological Survey undertook extensive studies of the environmental characteristics of ash from the 1980 Mount St. Helens eruptions. These studies included water leach tests showing that rain falling onto fresh ash can be quite acidic due to the liberation of acidic gas species that condense onto ash particles in the eruption cloud.

01 Oct 2009