Resolving environmental complexity: A geologic appraisal of process-response elements and scale as controls of shoreline erosion along southeastern Lake Ontario, New York
Published:January 01, 1998
Paul R. Pinet, Charles E. McClennen, Laura J. Moore, 1998. "Resolving environmental complexity: A geologic appraisal of process-response elements and scale as controls of shoreline erosion along southeastern Lake Ontario, New York", A Paradox of Power, Charles W. Welby, Monica E. Gowan
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Geomorphic systems are inherently complex and are the product of a unique integrative history of surface processes, making it difficult for engineers, scientists, and resource managers to regulate environmental change in order to attain a specific management goal. A powerful means for unpacking geomorphic complexity is hierarchical classification of the dominant process-response elements of a geomorphic system. We apply hierarchical analysis specifically to the evaluation of the probable environmental effects of erosion-abatement projects at drumlin bluffs along the southeastern shore of Lake Ontario, assessing their impact across a variety of spatial and temporal scales. Some of the conclusions about probable impacts of shore-stabilization structures on the Ontario lakeshore are not intuitive, but are logically derived from the systematic hierarchical analysis of the system’s geomorphic complexity.
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A Paradox of Power
The 13 papers in this volume illustrate issues and opportunities confronting geologists as they bring their knowledge and understanding to bear in matters related to public health and welfare. Public decisions and decision-making processes in the face of geologic complexity and uncertainty are the subject of the first group of papers. In the second group, several “voice of warning” papers illustrate the use of geologic knowledge and research to warn the public of health hazards derived from geologic materials and processes. A third group of papers, in the “voice of reason” section, describes use of geologic knowledge to help lower the costs of mitigation and avoidance of geologic hazards. Finally, ethical and philosophical questions confronting geoscientists are discussed and issues of “truth” as related to the legal process and questions about the adequacy of information in making decisions about long-term radioactive waste disposal are discussed.