Impact of military activities on local and regional geologic conditions
Published:January 01, 2005
Throughout history, if generally more conspicuously in the Old World than the New, military activities have locally and sometimes regionally shaped the face of the Earth by construction of defense works in earth or stone. Military enhancement of terrain features by fortification, scarping, or flooding to form obstacles that counter or deflect attack may thus complement the effects of natural geomorphologic agents. Military operations and exercises have polluted parts of the Earth's surface through use of explosive ordnance and by fuel leakage, and disfigured it by redundant construction works. German military geologists in particular have necessarily developed peacetime roles to protect the environment rather than the state. Yet because agricultural use and urban sprawl are restricted within the large tracts of countryside designated as military training areas, these may preserve a heritage of habitats in a fairly natural state—as valuable in terms of conservation as the many sites worldwide now preserved for their military historical record.
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Humans as Geologic Agents
Homo sapiens is the only known species to consciously effect change to the Earth’s geologic environment. We reshape the Earth; intensify erosion; modify rivers; change local climates; pollute water resources, soils, and geologic media; and alter soils and the biosphere. We dig holes in it, remove parts of it, and bury highly toxic materials in it. In this volume, the authors explore human impact on the Earth and attempt to answer the following questions. What have we done to Terra? How fast have we effected change? Are the changes permanent? Are they good, or have we inadvertently caused more damage? Can we, should we, repair some or all of these changes? These are important questions for the geoscience community because, as those most knowledgeable about the Earth and its resources, geologists play a major role in sustaining and preserving the Earth.